Solita Project Lead Manifesto part 1: The story behind

Silja Kulvik Laine Project Manager, Solita

Published 05 Apr 2023

Reading time 4 min

The role of a Project Lead has expanded from managing scope, schedule and budget towards a more collaborative and motivational leadership role. Skills such as driving customer value, ensuring project team wellbeing and promoting psychological safety have become essential.

This shift brings with it quite a lot of ambiguity. What does a Project Lead bring to an agile IT project with its self-managing teams? What is expected of the Project Lead? How do we even define a Project Lead in an organization, where project leadership is spread between various roles none of whom might hold the official title of a Project Manager? These are some of the questions we decided to tackle with a Project Lead Manifesto.

The voice of the community

At Solita we have a culture of community-built manifestos that guide the ways our experts do their work – check out our developer manifesto and cloud manifesto for inspiration. Creating something similar for Project Leads had been bubbling under in different parts of the organization, but there was always the question of who should do it. We have Project Leads scattered in different units and countries, leading projects of all sorts. Do they have enough in common to lean on a shared manifesto?

When we started working on a manifesto at the Project Lead competence community, one of the key motivators was to see if it could work as a unifying factor for all Solita Project Leads. Instead of jumping to conclusions based on shared understanding in the group facilitating the process, we felt that the process in itself is valuable. This was our chance to hear the voices of our community across unit and country borders.

To ensure that everyone gets to contribute, we organized 21 workshops where we invited all Solitans working in a Project Lead role or identifying as a Project Lead to participate. Despite the diverse group of participants, the message from these workshops was strikingly similar: we had found our unified voice, which formed the backbone of our manifesto.

Unified message for the manifesto

The four key themes emerging from most workshops were:

  • Taking care of the team,
  • Building trust by being honest and transparent,
  • Creating value for the customer by finding out and solving their true business needs, and
  • Focusing on the big picture instead of micromanaging.

Conversations also revolved around themes such as profitability, continuous improvement, agile ways of working and keeping things under control. However, at the end of the day, when discussing what matters the most, we always got back to people and the four key themes above.

As unified as our community was in their message, the process of putting it into words turned out to be more difficult than expected. Discussions on wordings dragged on for hours and requests for feedback on draft versions sparked little interest. After what felt like a thousand iterations, we published what we thought would be the final version – and that’s when feedback started flowing in from all directions.

Finding a wording that everyone in our community could accept turned out to be the hardest part of the entire process. The debate soon escalated into intense discussions with our management on what Solita values can be and how they are reflected in the everyday life of our projects. As passionate as this might sound (yup, passion is one of our four values), freedom of opinion and courage to discuss also difficult matters is deeply ingrained in our culture.

As frustrating as the process was at times, our values also proved their worth. Intense discussions equipped us with better insights and pushed us to create yet another, improved version.

So here it is: let us proudly present Solita’s brand new Project Lead Manifesto:

Project lead manifesto

Just like with the Agile Manifesto, readers of our Project Lead Manifesto tend to skip right into the four pillars with the values. Admittedly, they are the juicier part that describes how we do our work and differentiate from other Project Leads. However, the top line also carries an important message that shouldn’t be skipped: The goal and reason of being of our Project Leads is to do sustainable and successful business.

The purpose of this manifesto is not just to put into words how Project Leads at Solita work, but also to work as a backbone for the difficult decisions Project Leads face in their everyday project work. When in doubt, check out our manifesto.

However, internal use is not all there is to it.

Do you want to become a Project Lead at Solita? Are you considering Solita’s services? Are you working in a project team with us? How do you know what you should expect?

The typical lists of responsibilities don’t really tell you much about the value that Project Leads – let alone Solita Project Leads – bring to projects. The Manifesto is our way of describing also externally the exceptional work that our Project Leads do.

A welcome side effect of the manifesto process was that it brought the somewhat new Swedish Project Lead community together, sparked valuable insights on ways of working and highlighted the need for a local community as well. At the same time, Solita culture and project work proved to be similar independent of country.

Curious to hear more about how our manifesto manifests itself in actual project work? Stay tuned for the next posts in this series, which will drill deeper into each of the values!

Want to join Solita? See our open jobs.

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