Standard and Heroic Project Management – impact on perceived success



By Tom Taylor

London, UK


For some time I have been interested in and studying apparent differences between standard project management and heroic project management – and their impacts on achieving perceived success.

Does heroic project management come from heroes and heroines who are constantly being heroic and always going the extra mile – they just cannot stop themselves!?

Or is heroic project management most noticeable and appropriate when the going gets really tough (and only then); or when blame is on the horizon – or right up close; or when vital team members are not performing adequately; or difficult truths and real power need to be introduced to each other – or kept well apart?

Are standard project managers sensible people who do their required work, are appropriately qualified, who work 9 to 5, with an hour for lunch, and have up-to-date CPD records? This sounds wonderful and sensible.

Alternatively might these “standard” project managers be inhibited in being, or even considering being, heroic by their culture, or fear of failing, or lack of encouragement, or lack of reward or remuneration or recognition? Or is it all about inherent personality – so can heroic P3M be taught and learnt at all?

Is heroism one of the unstated or understated P3M competences along with: luck, wit, courage, reasoned judgment, good eyesight, selective hearing and others?

There is this story – as below. It is not clear if it is all true. It seems to be about a project manager who considers possible heroic acts to be part of a standard service. Is this a dangerous approach; or a commendable outlook? Should such an approach be avoided or supressed, or should the outlook be encouraged and rewarded? Does it depend on the circumstances and the participants?


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About the Author


Tom Taylor

London, United Kingdom



Tom Taylor is a global advisor on projects, programmes, enterprises and business. As it says on his large business card / small brochure (a concept still in development) he is known as:

  • a popular, confident and energetic speaker and broadcaster,
  • a prolific author and publisher on innovative business and original management issues,
  • an experienced and enthusiastic lecturer and course leader, and
  • an award winning, highly experienced manager of projects, advisor and consultant.

Tom is a founding partner and retained advisor at Buro Four – an eminent project management outfit based in UK – please go to http://www.burofour.co.uk/.

Tom is a central figure in the Association for Project Management (APM) currently serving as President. He is a former APM vice president, chairman, branch committee member and London branch chairman. He is a Registered Project Professional (RPP), Honorary Fellow of APM, recipient of the inaugural APM President’s Medal and recipient of the prestigious Sir Monty Finneston Award. Please go to http://www.apm.org.uk/

Tom is a principal at dashdot – a consultancy and publishing vehicle – please go to http://www.dashdot.co.uk/

He is a guest lecturer at a number of universities and a Visiting Professor at Salford University.

He is an active supporter of Member Associations (MAs) of the International Project Management Association (IPMA), Young Crews and their events – please see http://www.ipma.org/

A current personal profile of Tom is available at http://www.tomtaylor.info/ and he is contactable at [email protected]