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Book review 'The Good Sponsor' by Henny Portman

1 February 2017 onderzoeken

Jim Johnson, Standish Group, wrote the book ‘The good Sponsor’. The Standish Group already published The Executive Sponsor Research Report. And this book can be seen as a follow up and will help you to strengthen your skills to be a good project sponsor.

The main part of the book is built around 10 major attribute/skill areas and provides insights and best practises to become a good sponsor. The last part of the book includes a summary, the history of the research and appendices talking about 21 perils of using consultants (Why not write a book about this Jim?) and a story on project saboteurs with a reference to the book The Project Saboteur.

The author sees the sponsor as a Clipper ship captain with skills like inspiration, hard work, imagination and fast decision making and many more. Compare Captain Richard Woodget of the Cutty Sark. As a reference point for an excellent project sponsor we see the ideal captain. This ideal captain is positioned in the middle of the Captain Scale with five different functionalities (see the QRC picture with the Captain Scale/ Inspirational personality spectrum). In this Captain Scale we see at both ends the poor-quality project sponsors: Mother hen and Deadbeat dad and in between the Nitpicker and Drifter.

The 10 major skills are (in order of importance):

  1. Inspiration
  2. Perspiration (aka hard work)
  3. Imagination
  4. Decisiveness
  5. Connection
  6. Emotional maturity
  7. Resourcefulness
  8. Nimbleness
  9. Driven
  10. Progression

Every skill has its own chapter and you get a deep dive into the skill and a decomposition in competences. E.g. perspiration includes commitment, optimization and sponsor bonds. For this specific bonding competency, a separate appendix gives you 25 questions to ask project managers to promote bonding. Besides the detailed explanation including many best practises, examples of good and bad sponsors, and examples how to improve executive sponsor skills, you will get some additional material like a related book that you might consider to read including a one-page summary, a quiz to test the specific skill based on the judgement of every competence (very skilled, skilled, moderately skilled and poorly skilled) and the fit on the inspirational personality spectrum for this skill. Every chapter ends with four exercises to improve the discussed skill.

Conclusion: definitely worthwhile to read if you are in the position of project sponsor and want to improve your own sponsor skills. I will include the outcome of this book in my own project board / sponsor awareness workshops.

The Chaos Group offers a project executive sponsorship Self-testing kit. The kit includes an assessment and benchmark as well as a calculation tool to estimate the time you will need to spend on the project to make it successful.


Book review 'The Good Sponsor' by Henny Portman


Venture Informatisering Adviesgroep NV, kortweg VIAgroep is gevestigd in Den Haag en ingeschreven in het handelsregister Haaglanden onder nummer 164.764.

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