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Optimizing Project Performance


This is my first blog for Project Times. I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts and experience each month and engaging in a dialogue on project and program management and process optimization. The goal is to help in the ongoing work of optimizing our performance and the performance of our organizations. My orientation is influenced by systems thinking as a means for remaining objective and realistic. I promote open-minded mindfulness applied at the individual, team and organization level as means to optimize performance.

I apply a Zen-like approach, as evidenced in my book The Zen Approach to Project Management.‘Optimal’ means most desirable under the circumstances; the best given current conditions. Attaining and sustaining optimal performance is a dynamic process that takes place continuously over time as conditions change and learning from performance is transformed into process improvements. In project management, optimal performance is being able to consistently meet expectations by delivering useful, quality results within time and cost constraints while maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of resources across multiple projects. When we take a broader view, we include the consistent realization of the benefits that motivated project performance and the ability to sustain and improve optimal performance.

Who doesn’t want to operate optimally? The real question is what time, effort and resources will you commit to do it?

Project management and performance optimization are intimately related. Project management is a process that is both a means to the ends of process optimization and a target of it. Project management (PM) operates within other processes such as product development, finance, engagement management and construction. At the same time project and program management are critical success factors in optimizing the performance of any process. Optimization implies managed intentional change and continuous improvement. These are brought about by way of projects and operational processes performed within programs.

Over the next months we will explore optimal project and program management performance. Among the factors that are critical to optimal performance are process (quality) improvement, methodology, project management, organizational change management, communication, expectations management, conflict management, decision making and problem solving, knowledge management, collaboration and leadership. These are combined with specific knowledge and experience in organization, technology, policies and procedures. The result is a complex system in which engineering must be balanced with an openness to let things evolve.

How do we address the blending of agile, lean and traditional project management? How do we manage defined processes, compliance and flexibility? How do we implement and sustain practical best practices in the project management process in a way that maximizes benefits? How do we satisfy all the stakeholders – clients, sponsors, champions, sales people, performers, regulators, etc.? These are among the questions we will address over the coming months.

Please comment to let me know what you think of the definitions and direction reflected above. For further exploration of these topics and for other resources visit

George Pitagorsky

George Pitagorsky, integrates core disciplines and applies people centric systems and process thinking to achieve sustainable optimal performance. He is a coach, teacher and consultant. George authored The Zen Approach to Project Management, Managing Conflict and Managing Expectations and IIL’s PM Fundamentals™. He taught meditation at NY Insight Meditation Center for twenty-plus years and created the Conscious Living/Conscious Working and Wisdom in Relationships courses. Until recently, he worked as a CIO at the NYC Department of Education.

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