What is the Executive Council?
The PMI Chicagoland Chapter Executive Council is a group of invited executives from various Chicago-area industries who share ideas, perspectives and best practices for improving the management of projects in organizations and the role of the project management profession.
The PMI Chicagoland Chapter formed the council to help achieve its primary goal that “worldwide, organizations will embrace, value, and utilize project management and attribute their success to it.” The message the council promotes is described below.
- Inspire & instigate action in organizations to improve how projects are managed and directed
- Increase the incidence of discussions among executives across organizational boundaries
- Involve executives in strengthening the chapter’s capabilities to advance the project management profession.
Turning Vision into Reality: How Project Management Supports the Business
How do successful business executives consistently deliver outstanding results in this challenging and extremely competitive global economy? They do two things extremely well:
- Develop, disseminate and support a corporate strategy that provides maximum return to shareholders while serving customers and growing the business
- Ensure that mission-critical projects and programs that support the core business strategy are completed successfully.
The strategic planning process defines the goals an organization is expected to attain during the next business cycle. Achieving these new objectives means changing the way the organization does things, or doing something that has not been done before. That, by definition, requires a project. Why is it that “best practices” in project management are seldom associated with the successful delivery of strategic goals? Is it too difficult at the strategic level to recognize the benefits of project management?
An organization’s ability to succeed regardless of industry or environment depends on its ability to execute effectively on strategic plans. The first step required is to adopt good project-management principles. According to a Stanford study, organizations that execute strategic objectives well also are good at project management. 
Every organization needs a vision and a project portfolio to support it. In a global survey of project management office (PMO) leaders by Business Improvement Architects, 68 percent of the 750 respondents reported having no systematic method for setting project priorities or linking them to corporate strategy.
One problem executives encounter with the concept of project management defining organizational success reflects that most projects attempt to solve departmental issues without considering how they impact the business as a whole. What’s worse, this fact is hidden completely from leadership.
A strategic-alignment process ensures the most appropriate selection of investments and also the maximum business value. Consider this simple model:
Strategy [drives] Programs (Tactics)
[where major decisions are made for stakeholders]
Programs [drive] Projects
[Programs comprise a web of discrete projects]
Starting with an explicit and actionable business strategy allows executives to determine very quickly whether a project fits with that strategy or not. If it does, you can examine delivering on strategy from a program management perspective, and it will become clear that the organization’s success connects directly with its ability to do the right projects and do them successfully.
A program is a series of projects that deliver tangible benefits to the business by applying key objectives underwritten by top management. Once the connection is realized, it becomes easy to recognize why project management is critical to executing strategic initiatives. Executives must devote some resources and investments to make it happen and, typically, the PMO serves as the enabling mechanism with the appropriate resources and governance model to get the work done. Align strategy with the successful management of projects and you gain a clear road map for achieving strategic goals and objectives.
 (Ibbs and Reginato, 2004)
 Excerpts from the April 2006 PM Network, “In Sync: Executives must align projects with strategy-but nobody said it would be easy."