Five years ago in Taiwan, there was a general lack of awareness about project management.
This led all of us in the project management community to some basic questions: How could we prove the value of professional project management teaching and qualifications to the country's leading opinion-makers? And how could we show that having as many qualified managers as possible would be good for business and therefore for society?
We decided to provide free project management training to business leaders, company managers, politicians and other influential people. All of these people knew enough about management skills and practices to take such an invitation seriously--and if it was free, how could they refuse?
In this way they would understand what all the Project Management Professional (PMP)® education providers were trying to achieve.
This became our strategy: influence the influential.
After getting first-hand experience of what it meant to be trained and to work as a professional project manager, participants started to endorse project management education and qualifications.
At the same time, we also facilitated numerous newspaper reports on major successful projects, including Taipei's Tower 101.
We also managed to get over 2,000 people--many of whom participated in the free training--to sign the petition for proper project management training sent to our main forum of elected politicians, the Legislative Yuan. Following this petition, we wrote an open letter to Taiwan's president about the importance of project management teaching and qualification.
One of the hardest places to introduce new ideas, practices, technology or anything that requires rethinking convention is within government departments. They see their main responsibility as implementing policy--discussions about or changes to working practices could be potentially costly distractions from an already sensitive process.
Despite the challenges, our efforts have paid off. As of January, all civil servants are now required to have professional project management training and qualifications.
While "influencing the influential" was a business plan specifically tailored to Taiwan's situation and needs at that time, we were nevertheless following our own professional management training.
As the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) indicates, identifying your stakeholders and satisfying their needs would be the first step to successfully managing change, regardless or how big or small that change.