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  • Writer's pictureBrian Davidson, PMP, CSM

Put the Four Principles Into Action Using A Project Workbook

A project workbook is a crucial tool for managing and tracking the progress of projects. By integrating the Four Principles of Project Leadership into the structure of a project workbook, project managers can enhance project execution and ensure alignment with strategic objectives. This blog article explores how to structure a project workbook effectively to embed these principles, ensuring that every phase of the project aligns with these core leadership tenets.



The project workbook serves as the central hub for all project documentation and tracking. It's where strategy meets action, and where abstract principles are translated into concrete tasks and milestones. Incorporating the Four Principles of Project Leadership into this workbook can guide project managers and their teams through a clear and structured path to success.

Chart the Course: Main Tab for High-Level Project Plan and Timeline

  • Principle Applied: The first principle, Chart the Course, involves setting out the project's path clearly from the start. This principle can be effectively visualized in the project workbook's main tab, which should include a high-level project plan and timeline.

  • Implementation in Workbook: This tab should feature either a Gantt chart or a simplified One Page Project Manager (OPPM) template. It should outline key project phases, major milestones, and the timeline for each segment of the project. This tab serves as the project's "north star", keeping everyone aligned on the big picture and major deadlines.

Establish a Shared Vision: Activity List Tab

  • Principle Applied: Establishing a Shared Vision means ensuring that all team members understand and are committed to the project's goals. This is reflected in the workbook through a detailed Activity List tab.

  • Implementation in Workbook: This tab should break down major deliverables and activities into actionable tasks with clear ownership and deadlines. For projects using a rolling-wave planning approach, emphasis should be placed on 'next-up' activities to maintain focus on immediate priorities while keeping future tasks in view. This setup helps in aligning the team's efforts towards common objectives, with transparency in roles and responsibilities.

Navigate the Obstacles: Navigation Plan Tab

  • Principle Applied: The principle of Navigating the Obstacles anticipates challenges and plans for potential setbacks.

  • Implementation in Workbook: The Navigation Plan tab should outline key project assumptions and potential obstacles that could arise if these assumptions prove inaccurate. For each identified obstacle, an action plan should be developed to mitigate the impact. This proactive approach in documenting and planning for obstacles ensures that the project remains resilient and adaptable to changes.

Risks, Assumptions, Issues, and Decisions (RAID) Tab

  • Principle Applied: Continuing with the theme of Navigating the Obstacles, a separate tab dedicated to Risks, Assumptions, Issues, and Decisions (RAID) further solidifies this principle.

  • Implementation in Workbook: This tab acts as a repository for all other project-related risks, logging assumptions made during the planning phase, tracking ongoing issues, and recording critical decisions. Keeping this information organized and accessible supports effective risk management and decision-making processes throughout the project lifecycle.

Focus on the Goal: Distractions and Mitigations Tab

  • Principle Applied: The final principle, Focus on the Goal, emphasizes the importance of keeping the team focused on the project's ultimate objectives, avoiding and managing distractions.

  • Implementation in Workbook: The last tab in the project workbook should be dedicated to identifying potential distractions that could divert the team's focus from project goals. It should also outline strategies to mitigate these distractions, whether they be internal team issues or external pressures. This helps in maintaining sustained concentration and momentum towards achieving project goals.


By integrating these Four Principles of Project Leadership into a project workbook, project managers can create a robust framework that not only guides the project's strategic direction but also provides practical tools and techniques to manage the day-to-day operations effectively. Such a structured approach ensures that all aspects of the project are aligned with the overarching goals, ultimately leading to successful project outcomes.


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