What a Project Sponsor Should Learn From an Orchestra Conductor

When you pitch an orchestra against a project for comparison, it’s as if you are looking at the two ends of the spectrum – one involves creative expression and the other corporate humdrum. Even so, there are quite a few similarities between what it takes to leading the two. Let’s take a look at what lessons a project sponsor can pick up from an orchestra conductor.


A conductor is solely responsible for the interpretation aspects in an orchestra. The kind of discipline that is set by the conductor necessitates that there is no room for individual interpretation in an orchestra. From the soloists to the choir, the conductor decides what should be sung and played, the tempo of the song, the score, and such, keeping his eyes locked in on delivering a beautiful performance overall. Similarly, in a project management scenario, the project sponsor is required to outline the goals and resources for each project, and decide how the resources are allocated. Often, project sponsors will have to resolve issues that involve project priority clashes, or competition over resources, and ensure that working toward the best interest of the project is given the utmost priority.


The conductor ensures that the various elements in the orchestra blend beautifully by coordinating their performance. Similarly, co-ordination is of a lot of importance in project management. People tend to confuse project managers and project sponsors to have the same role, but the difference is that while a project manager manages the team, the project sponsor ensures that all other aspects of the project are facilitated for success right from getting the project approved to leading it to completion. The project sponsor should make sure that the outer framework for the project is optimized for the best results. They usually set protocols and reporting structures in the project to ensure smooth operations.


In an orchestra, the conductor does not just lead the musicians but also provides constant feedback throughout. Musicians pick up cues from the conductor to understand what he is looking for and what he does not want to see in the performance and accordingly fine-tune their delivery. In a project, the project sponsor is expected to offer constant feedback to the project manager on changes that have to made to resolve issues, so they can communicate the same with team members, and steer the project forward.

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