Project Leadership: Top 10 Cardinal Principles, Part 2


Project Leadership: Top 10 Cardinal Principles: Part 2 – The Second Five

By Hareshchandra Thakur, PMP

Associate Vice President
Project Management, Energy Solutions
Wärtsilä India Pvt. Ltd.

Mumbai, India

Continued from Part 1 published in Aug, 2016 – https://pmworldjournal.net/article/project-leadership-top-10-cardinal-principles/

To re-cap, the first five cardinal principles have been discussed in Part 1 :


Figure 1: Ist Five Cardinal Principles – Covered in Part 1 (August Issue)

In this part, the balance 5 cardinal principles are discussed below:


Figure 2: Five Cardinal Principles – Covered in this article – Part 2

These top ten cardinal principles form a word “EFFECTIVE” + S. In effect, these principles serve as a guiding tool for the PMs enabling emerge as Effective Project Leaders.


EI – Emotional Intelligence       PM – Project Manager       PL – Project Leader                             
SH – Stakeholder               TM – Team Member

*TMs – Team Members (Chief Design Engineers – Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Logistics Controller, Project Engineers, Procurement Manager, Business Controller, Export Assistants); Site Staff (Site Manager, Site Engineers – Mechanical, Electrical, Civil), Quality Controller, HSE Engineer, Commissioning Engineers – PLC, Mechanical, Electrical, Control & Instrumentation.

**SHs – *TMs, Owners, Sponsors, Owner’s Representatives, Owner’s Consultants (Design and Project Management), Suppliers, Contractors (Mechanical, Electrical, Civil), Transporters.

6. Test your assumptions. Untested assumptions are Risks!!

Decision making requires choosing an alternative and in absence of availability of 100% information, the decisions are usually based on certain assumptions, to that extent decision making involve an element of risk. Projects are no exception as various decisions made at varying stages involve certain assumption(s). PLs are mindful of the fact that almost every decision made is based on certain assumption(s) since complete information is usually not available. Moreover, putting decision on a back-burner until 100% information is available and/or holding on to decisions leads to complications. Dynamic environmental conditions and rapidly changing times add to the challenges.

pmwj50-Sep2016-Thakur-FIGURE3Untested assumptions are like “time bombs” waiting to explode and they are the major source of risks that can eventually derail the project. PLs act proactively and make sure that these assumptions are collated, tested and validated so as to prevent and/or minimise their negative impact on the project. One of the greatest advantages of testing assumptions is that it results in higher preparedness to expect the unexpected. It enhances our ability to respond to the unexpected and mitigate the negative consequences.

Figure – 3 : Testing Assumption

PLs understand that there is no guarantee that a Plan A which has worked successfully in earlier projects would lead to similar success in the current project. PLs invariably have a Plan B (backup Plan) should Plan A which has worked successfully in earlier projects, fail. Moreover, although we plan our activities meticulously but at times, much tour disliking, our projects are influenced and impacted by Murphy’s Law. The back up plans acts as our saviour and switching over to Plan B prevents building up of anxiety and flaring of temper.

One of the classic example emphasizing the need for testing the assumptions as narrated by one PM is given below –

“In one of the projects, erection of 110 M chimney was considered with derrick due to non-availability of crane with large boom length locally. However, during the erection, it was observed that beyond 70 M, the HT transmission lines in the vicinity made it impossible to go ahead with the stay wires holding the derrick and continue further with the manual erection. We had to mobilize a crane with 125 M boom length to erect the remaining part of the chimney. Sensing the urgency, the crane hiring company also raised the prices. Mobilization of the crane at short notice, resulted in cost escalation, apart from the delays, idling of manpower on site and associated delays. Had the team validated their assumption at the project conception stage, such firefighting situation could have been avoided” – Sr. Project Manager.

Non-availability of local manpower with required competence in the country of operation, local holidays, torrential rains/snowfall blocking the roads and hampering the progress are other common causes that disrupt the flow of activities resulting in cost and time overruns. These examples emphasize the need for proper evaluation and validation of the assumptions, proactively planning the activities and making the needed provisions for additional time and costs in the project budget.


To read entire article, click here


About the Author

Hareshchandra M Thakur

Mumbai, India



Hareshchandra M Thakur
is a professional in the Power Sector with over 30 years’ experience in setting up of multiple Power Plants in Nuclear, Oil & Gas sectors in India and abroad. Presently, he is working as Associate Vice President, Project Management, Energy Solutions with Wartsila India Pvt. Ltd. Hareshchandra has held various positions in Financial Management and Project Management with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd., Wartsila Finland Oy and Wartsila India Pvt. Ltd.

He has closely worked with cross functional and cross cultural teams and has vast international Exposure in key areas – Project Management, Strategic Financial Management, Contract Management and Resource Management, Competence building, Formulation of Business Strategies and Establishing way of working for Indian & global projects. He is Certified NLP Practitioner and has been visiting various Engg and Management institutions as a guest lecturer. He has made presentations at IPMA World Congress at Helsinki, Istanbul & Crete and Global Symposiums on Project Management in New Delhi.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from College of Engineering, University of Poona and a Master’s degree in Financial Management from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management, University of Mumbai. He obtained PMP Certification in April 2002. He lives in Mumbai, India and can be contacted at [email protected].