Mind Change in Project Management

Guest contribution by | 18.03.2019

Mindset here, mindset there. Again and again people write and talk about mindset. What is that about? What is the mindset and why should it help? What should mindset or even mind change do in project management? Of course, neither the topic nor the effect is new, but since not everyone is constantly on the road with coaches and trainers, I would like to explain the topic understandably and from my personal point of view.

For me, mindset is all about awareness. Yes, the word is older and more familiar. It is about our consciousness and our thoughts.

Imagine you write down all your thoughts for one day. Really all of them, even the thoughts that run in the background:

  • In the morning, when you are not quite awake yet and perhaps fears become loud or tasks circle.
  • At breakfast, when worries creep in parallel to the morning reading – online or classically with the daily newspaper.
  • When you see a person and immediately form an opinion, when you read mails and messages, what’s going on in your head?
  • In meetings, in projects, in conversations, on the phone, during sports, in the shower, etc.
  • In the many 1,000 moments of the day.

Do it really, write it down for a day. It’s just one day. Yes, really DO it, not only think “Oh yes, I’ll do that”, because that’s where the mindset begins.

Then observe which emotional reactions the thoughts trigger in you. Do they strengthen you or rob you of your strength. Do they circle around possibilities or do they rather limit them? Is your glass half full or half empty? Do you live in abundance or in fear of poverty? Are you looking forward to the day or is it a burden for you?

Now I immediately build the bridge to project management and projects: Do you believe in the success of your projects? Do you and the team give everything to achieve your goal? Before I go into more detail in the following, I would like to take the term mindset a little apart and look at it.

What does mindset mean?

Let’s approach the word together. MIND: the head, the spirit, the thoughts. SET: the group, the series, the collection and as a verb: adjust. MINDSET: Is translated as way of thinking and is the sum / collection of all what our head thinks. In addition, our conscious thinking (almost) only includes what we know from experience. It results consequently from the sum of our experiences. Our attitudes and the way we think, feel and act are shaped by the past, by all the experiences we have had in our lives:

  • Positive experiences that encourage and strengthen us.
  • Negative experiences that lead us to limit ourselves, that we do not dare or cannot imagine things.

Our mindset therefore determines how we perceive our life, how we act and think. Mindset also means BEING CONSCIOUS:

  • We can not think negatively and expect something positive!
  • What is in us and our thinking, resonates with our environment!
  • The glasses through which we see the world appear to us as our real world!

Mindset work and mind change in the project

If we become fully aware of the effect of our thoughts, we have already taken the first step towards change. When we become aware of our limited thinking and are ready for NEW thinking, we begin to be interested in the possibilities and to open up.

Now it gets really exciting for every project and program manager and of course for every manager: What if much more is possible than we can imagine?

I would like to use my personal experience to illustrate to you what effect mindset work has. In the past 20 years I have implemented many large projects and accompanied project managers through their implementation. All these projects had in common that nobody knew beforehand whether the project could and would succeed. However, there was no doubt in my mind that we would achieve the respective project goal. It was often exhausting and involved a lot of work for everyone involved, but the security and self-image of “We can do it” was in me and I communicated this in all conversations and actions.

When I talk about mind change in project management today and convey this in seminars, it is about leading and accompanying the project manager into a different (self) consciousness, so that he or she can introduce exactly this new attitude into his projects and lead the team with this spirit.

Attention: It is not a matter of “speaking beautifully” or “thinking beautifully” when we encounter problems in projects! It is a matter of anchoring an attitude in one’s own inner being that says, for example:

  • There is a solution, even if I cannot recognize it yet!
  • I love the challenges, because they bring me into my personal growth!
  • I welcome mistakes, because they serve development and show what we can change!
  • Life is an eternal learning and a continuous change!
  • I always focus on the possibilities (not on the problem)!

Now it sounds so easy and you might think “Yes, that’s right” or “Yes, I see it the same way”. Then start tomorrow to write down your thoughts honestly and consciously for one day. You will be amazed and quickly recognize which treasures are still hidden at this point if you are willing to work consciously on your mindset.

Hidden treasures

I am repeatedly asked, where is the greatest potential if people want to be more successful? My answer is always the same: The greatest treasure lies within the human being, to lift this treasure is always a personal path of development!

The effect is particularly great when the person is active as a manager, because he serves as a role model and guide for the team. He influences many people and his mindset, his way of thinking affects everything he is responsible for. I always see project managers as leaders!

Many managers today still believe that they have to go their own way. This surprises me over and over again, because I know how much faster and easier it goes with a trainer/coach as support. In top-class sport it goes without saying to have a coach and to experience the turbulence this support means for professional and personal development. Mindset work always takes place, because at the top it only works in the awareness “I can do it! I work every day for my goal”.

Now we are not active here in top-class sport, but in the project environment and this is usually very diverse. So what can you do as a manager in everyday life?

Mindset exercises in everyday life

The following exercises can be used well in everyday working life to find solutions and to think DIFFERENTLY:

  • Think every day something really crazy, something you have never thought before and what seems completely utopian to you!
    In a team: Use a whiteboard and collect “crazy thoughts” (also possible online).
  • Look at your “problems” every day and imagine that they are gifts! Write down both, the problem and the possible gift in it.

OK, now let’s go a little further …

  • Look at your fear every day and think: “There is a treasure hidden in it for me!”. Write the fear down concretely and the sentence mentioned above next to it.
  • Look at your challenges and think: “You serve me so that I can develop my highest potential!”.
  • Look at YOUR reality! What is it like? How do you like it? What do you want to change?

Do the exercises for at least 28 days. You will be amazed what you will discover and how your way of thinking and your reality will change. 28 days may sound long, but if you want to change your mindset in a sustainable and positive way, it is just an investment. Please feel free to write me your experiences at my e-mail address below – I am always very happy about that.


Mind change in project management leads us to new thinking and to the recognition of new possibilities that lie beyond our previous imagination. If, for example, you have been thinking “This is impossible, there is no solution for it” in a project so far, then you are free from this thought. Make yourself aware of the fact that there are solutions that you have not yet been able to recognize. Open yourself to solutions that were previously beyond your imagination.

As I write this I would like to shout to you: “Go beyond the limits of your usual thinking and experiences. Think BIG! Think in possibilities and THINK completely NEW”. Imagine that you and the entire team are always focused on success. You always have an open and free view into the future. You have the knowledge that much more is possible.

With my approach I would like to invite you to a NEW way of thinking, to a mind change in project management. With the mind change you can leave accustomed ways of thinking and experience, how you find solutions more easily and with more ease, even with joy reach your goals. Become aware of your current thinking. Experience change in yourself. Start in your thinking, and then let words and actions follow. Observe how your environment reacts. It is like a breakthrough into something NEW and you will be thrilled at how much easier it becomes to lead challenging projects to success.

My personal tip for mindset work: Take a trainer/coach if it is faster and easier for you to make personal changes. Because strength and clarity begins in your MINDSET!



Do you want to take action? Katja Schaefer will be happy to help you with coaching and seminars. If you are interested, please contact her at https://www.beratung-katja-schaefer.de.

Katja Schaefer has published more articles in the t2informatik Blog, including

t2informatik Blog: Movie or Movement - Moving big projects

Movie or Movement – Moving big projects

t2informatik Blog: Feng Shui in project management

Feng Shui in project management

t2informatik Blog: Project manager in large projects

Project manager in large projects

Katja Schaefer
Katja Schaefer

Katja Schaefer is a consultant for complex large-scale healthcare IT projects in German-speaking countries. In her coaching sessions, seminars and training courses, she breaks new ground in project management and brings structure, clarity and success to large projects. She guides you through project crises with a wealth of experience and systemic work.