10 tips for project success: start moving, keep moving, get momentum

By 22/06/2016 3 Comments

Projects running successfully are like cycling downhill, they have momentum, an energy of their own which exaggerates your strengths and covers a multitude of mistakes. When you’ve got momentum, clients are much more likely to say yes, and forgive minor irritations. But without momentum, every flaw is magnified and your client will forget none of your faults! Momentum is a big deal and often the difference between failing and succeeding.

On a team that’s thriving, growing, and delivering results an aura of excitement permeates everything. The momentum is almost tangible. With it, your team is expectant and energized, and performs at its peak potential. And it’s always much simpler to steer a team that’s already experiencing success than to jumpstart one that’s stagnant. Without momentum the team loses enthusiasm and when momentum has waned, it’s very difficult to get back. So how can we build momentum and keep it going?

While you can feel momentum, it’s hard to define. John Maxwell suggests momentum = the attitude of the leader + the atmosphere of the organization + the accomplishments of the people. So if momentum is made of these three elements; leadership, culture and accomplishments, here’s how you can cultivate them to drive success.

Lead strongly

First, as the project manager, start by taking responsibility for the outcome. Momentum starts with you being contagiously enthusiastic about the project’s chances of success. Empower your team with a hope that the project is possible, that they can work together to achieve it, that together you’ve got everything you need to make success happen. You need to set an example and create momentum by being positive and focussing on what’s possible rather than the challenges or the pain points of the project or client. If you’re convinced of the importance of the work it filters down to the team and this sense of purpose propels them forward.

Create a visionary and risk-taking culture

You can create and foster a culture that’s conducive to building momentum by first trusting and believing in your team; concentrate on developing their strengths rather than on fixing their shortcomings. Carefully channel your team’s talent and release them to do what they do best rather than trying to fix and remind them of all the things they keep doing wrong. Your team should feel like you enable them to do their best work.

You need to inspire the team with a vision that’s contagious even if on the face of it, it’s not that exciting. Perhaps you’re working on another coupon campaign – it’s never going to feature at Cannes but maybe you could create the campaign in record time or find a way to make it the cheapest it’s ever been.

Whatever your vision is, share it confidently and talk about it continually, and then remove their fear of failure – invite risk and affirm innovative ideas—even if they don’t always work out the team will get momentum from the sense of ownership and trying something new.

Celebrate your team

Finally, create momentum by celebrating the accomplishments of your team. Everyone likes to win and be on a winning team. This is about far more than keeping a tally of your project wins. Fundamental in the continual building of momentum is the celebration of it. People work hard on their jobs, and they have an innate need to know that their effort matters.

Your teams are looking for self-actualization and recognition that what they do is worthwhile. You can reinforce the worth of your team’s work by setting aside time to celebrate each little win whether it’s banging a gong, buying everyone donuts or playing your team’s tune, celebrate in the sweet joys of each triumph.


Ben Aston

Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and VP of Client Services at FCV, a full service digital agency in Vancouver, Canada. I've been in the industry for more than 10 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from video virals to CMS’, flash games to banner ads and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.


  • Nailed it. Digital or not, momentum is the key. Cultivate it. Protect it (so you and your team gain credibility setting and meeting expectations). That yields the opportunity to win, and win again, as you/your team/your sponsor clear the lane all the way to the finish line. Sounds easy, but requires doing the little things, the right things, and the mundane with the right attitude often when there is no time to do so (or too little sleep) so the next event is another win. Celebrate others every step of the way, and win together.

  • Edward Shakes says:

    Great Article Ben. I believe momentum is very important for a project team. A PM that ensures the a projects momentum while encouraging positive outcomes with proper leadership is essential for team performance. Team feedback through celebrations will keep that project engine running at optimum speed.

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