Why Project Managers Should Become Legislators

Why Project Managers Should Become Legislators

Yep, I’m going to talk about politics. But first, an apology.

You may have noticed a dip in posting frequency as of late here on pmStudent.com. My sincere apologies for neglecting you, dear readers. I have become rather politically active as of late, primarily in relation to my work advocating for children with special needs at ParentInformer.org, SD Special Needs Advocacy, and volunteer work related. The legislative session is underway now in my state, funding cuts in education and services for special needs children have been proposed by our governor, etc.

So my focus over the past 2 weeks especially has been protecting the general education of all children and special educational needs for those kids who require it. Especially in this state who is among the lowest ranked in the nation for education funding, teacher salaries, etc. Plus with 3 releases going on amongst my project teams at work, I’m burning the candle at both ends and blogging about project management has been squeezed out a bit.

Good Legislators are Good Project Managers

What is it that legislators are supposed to do? Really do?

Some people may say they are supposed to pass laws. Represent their constituents. Get wined and dined by big business.

I have come to a different conclusion about what makes a good legislator. I don’t mean a popular one, but one who truly adds value to the process and the people they represent.

I think their primary role can be summarized in one sentence.

“Solve problems by building consensus, amidst a variety of interests to implement reasonable solutions.”

Sounds like part of the job of a project manager, eh?

Too often, we elect public officials who excel at sales and PR, but utterly fall flat on their faces when it comes to the business of actually doing the job they were elected to do.

So, I’m hereby encouraging all of you great project managers out there to consider running for office. We need people who can build consensus and implement reasonable solutions to the challenges facing our communities. People who can get things done. Good intentions don’t deliver a product, and they don’t make positive legislative change either.

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Peter Sperry

Elected officials have debated the delegate vs representative models of legislative responsibility for over 250 years. Experience indicates the representative model produces more effective government while the delegate model gets reelected.

Allen Sheaprd


First – good luck with child advocacy. From ADD to Aspergers they all grow up to be the adults we work, drive on the road and vote with.

Yes, legislators should do more than pass laws. I would like to seem them prune down the thousands of laws. IMO – if legislators could build consensus we would not need so many laws.

We do differ on P.M. Its more than just Proj. Management. Its leadership. Some folks “manage” an office while others lead an office.

Good luck. One good quote “Where there is understanding – funding is not an issue”

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

@Josh – I think the more immediate need for PMs are in the agencies who can implement the policies passed by the Congress. The value of a good PM is the ability to actualize a vision. The legislature is the wrong place to implement project management because that is the arena where the visions are created. People may disagree with the visions produced by the Congress but that is why we have elections.

Terri Jones

It would be nice if the skills of a good PM were more recognized by legislators too. The gap between political and election rhetoric is huge and unestimated continually by new legislators who have not yet had the experience of creating a program or delivering a service. If they were a PM, they would see and appreciate the steps to creating, delivering and sustaining a government service. And, at that moment, they would realize another key part of government life, sometimes there isn’t a good way for government to respond, or, there isno clear way at that moment. PM skills would be a welcome change!

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

Before we go touting the PM’s superior abilities we should stop and realize that over 70% of projects are delivered over-budget, past the deadline, and/or didn’t meet scope. Yes, roject management is a great methodology but it still needs a lot of work.

Sarah Giles

I’d say this is a different role for a state legislator – not their primary, legislating role, however. In fact, it’s their very status as a state legislator (someone who’s been elected to represent their community, to make state budgetary decisions, to pass laws) that then allows him or her to, in fact, build consensus and implement solutions in their community. Their role in this is to bring those people together who have the actual ability to implement a project. Their stature allows them to call upon those varied groups, ask them to work together, then convene the group.

Taking on this role is actually outside the realm of the legislator’s legislative role, but it’s fitting given their leadership position. The same can be true for a governor or a mayor, or a county commissioner.

Josh Nankivel

Thanks for all the comments everyone! I wasn’t able to participate, as my account here had been accidentally disabled or something. I’m back now!