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I decided to pause again in my current series on the cornerstones of Lean Project Management to reflect a bit more on my current journey to South East Asia and what it can teach us about successful projects and team alignment. This second and last reflection in real time comes on the eve of my return to Canada, after a five-week journey where team alignment was at his best, the team being all these new people I met and who made OUR “project” a great success.

While planning this journey, my wife and I looked extensively at websites like to select the best hotels and resorts possible. While reading comments and recommendations from past travelers, we could not find one single place where there was unanimous satisfaction. Even for the best of the bests, there was always someone who considered this hotel, that resort as the worst in the world, most often because s/he considered that the services received were simply horrible.

Why and how is that possible? I really believe that has to do with being or not being a good sponsor for your journey, this project that you pay for and that you want so dearly to savour. Very often, I hear participants in my workshops who complaint about the absence of their project sponsors. And when sponsors show up, it is often to ask for impossible things, while giving little consideration for the efforts of this project team that tries to make THE SPONSOR’s project a success. These sponsors just DO NOT SEE the project team and how important the mobilisation of this team is to the success of the project. Likewise, these unsatisfied travellers just do not see properly, nor respect these other persons who provide services to them.

When I travel, I never forget my role as the client and sponsor of this very personal project. What is that role? What is real sponsorship? In that matter, I adhere fully to NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) author Robert Dilts’s definition: “Sponsorship involves creating a context in which others can act, grow and excel…the sponsor provides a context, contacts and resources that allow the group or individual being sponsored to focus on, develop and use their own abilities and skills” ( Robert Dilts tells his workshop participants that you really sponsor someone when you tell them in your words and in your actions:”I SEE YOU, your contribution is worthwhile, YOU are important to me”. So, when I travel, as well as when I work with others on other venues, I try my best to sponsor them, to make them feel that they are important and that I really see them as such. It is then impossible for them to provide me with bad services, because they know I consider them and what they do. And on this journey in South East Asia, I really SAW all those people providing services to us. I harvested in return completely first rate service everywhere, by people aligned with our needs, because I was aligned with their need to be properly sponsored.

Those of us, who have taken negotiation training and/or are negotiators, know full well that nothing will happen if we do not acknowledge the other party and its expectations. Life is negotiating, a traveling journey is negotiating, and a project is negotiating. So you want to provide real, effective, sponsorship on the projects you are responsible for? This is very easy. Just look at everyone who works on the team assigned to deliver YOUR project and make them really feel that you SEE them, that their contribution is worthwhile and that they are important to you. I guarantee that under such sponsorship, YOUR project will become OUR project and will be a great success for all concerned.

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