Lessons from Great Project Managers: Harold Kerzner

Picture of Claudio Gutierrez

Claudio Gutierrez

President & Founder — Valens Project Consulting


Welcome back to our blog series, where we share teachings from past project management experts. Today, we are discussing Harold Kerzner. Kerzner’s ideas have revolutionized the world of project management by introducing new ways of managing projects across all industries.


Harold Kerzner: The Portrait of a Project Management Expert

Harold Kerzner has a PhD and decades of experience in project management. He has written books, taught classes, and consulted for companies, leaving his mark every step of the way.


Kerzner started in the aerospace industry, handling complex projects that paved the way for his impressive career. He had this unique talent for making complicated ideas easily understandable and applicable.


His book, “Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling,” is a must-read for project managers worldwide. It covers all aspects of project management in a simplified way.


But Kerzner’s most notable contribution is his focus on the people side of project management. He knew that it’s about managing tasks, yes—but also about leading people, communicating well, and recognizing what your team and stakeholders really need.

Just some of Kerzner’s impressive body of work.
Valuable insights for project managers from Harold Kerzner’s Legacy


See the Big Picture

Kerzner’s first lesson teaches us to see projects not only as checklists of tasks but as complex puzzles with different pieces—people, processes, technology, and resources. This perspective helps us project managers understand our work’s larger impact beyond the daily to-do list.


Communication is Key

Kerzner saw the vital role of effective communication in project management. Sharing information is not enough—you must ensure your message clicks with everyone. This means keeping everyone informed, actively listening to your team, addressing their concerns, and creating a comfortable environment for open discussion.


Lead Like a Leader

Leadership was a big theme in Kerzner’s book. He believed a project manager should inspire the team by setting clear goals, guiding them, and leading by example. They should also play to each team member’s strengths and help them excel.


Get Ahead of Risks

Kerzner stressed the importance of addressing risks before they become big and expensive problems. He advocated spotting potential risks early and planning rather than scrambling to fix problems later. This takes some foresight and creativity in problem-solving—two essential skills in the often unpredictable project management world.


Focus on Quality and Standards

Finally, Kerzner talked about the importance of quality and compliance with standards. He believed that the accurate measure of a project’s success is not just in meeting deadlines and budgets but also in the quality of the final product. This means setting clear quality benchmarks, having solid quality control steps, and always aiming for that gold standard.


Final Thoughts

Harold Kerzner’s impact on project management is monumental and lasting. His insights and strategies continue to shape how we run projects around the globe.


At Valens Project Consulting, we value the insights from past project management pioneers like Eliyahu M. Goldratt. Our consultants use these teachings with modern methods to deliver successful project outcomes. So, if you want to improve your project management with proven techniques, contact us today!


Harold Kerzner is active on LinkedIn and can be found here. Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn for the latest updates on how we help support our clients!

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