Supervising Projects You Don’t (Fully) Understand: Lessons for Effective Project Governance by Steering Committees


California Management Review

2017, vol. 59, n°2, pp.45-67

Départements : Information Systems and Operations Management

Mots clés : strategic projects, project supervision and oversight, project governance, steering committee work, focused understanding, managing surprises

Strategically important projects involve high stakes, uncertainty, and stakeholder complexity, with contingencies and risks typically surfacing repeatedly as the project evolves. This is challenging not only for the project team (PT) but also in particular for the steering committee (SC), the top management oversight structure typically used to align a project with the organization’s strategic goals. This article explores how senior executives on SCs can exercise leadership and effective oversight of strategic projects, although they have only limited time and often incomplete expertise. The SC can keep a project aligned, even with limited time, through focused understanding of the key logic and drivers of the project. The SC needs to manage the surprises and crises that inevitably arise in a difficult project through proactive analysis that goes to the bottom of the problem and by working with the PT to generate solutions