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What is project legacy

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“Please think about your legacy because you are writing it every day.” — Gary Vaynerchuk

There are projects we certainly remember. The Sydney Opera House, an indisputable symbol of Australian culture; The Night Watch, a controversial painting that has been a jewel and a mystery in Dutch art since 1642 [1]; Apollo 11, the first spaceflight that landed humans on the Moon; or Machu Picchu, one of the new seven wonders of the world; are just some examples.

If there is something all of these projects have in common is their legacy. Legacy is defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary as “something that is part of your history or that remains from an earlier time” [2].

According to Pinto, projects can be understood as the “stepping stones” of strategy [3]. Projects are how an organization builds its strategic vision, presents itself to the world, and constructs its legacy.

The long-term effects or outcomes of a project can be considered the project’s legacy [4]. For which it would be natural to think that projects need to be managed with a long-term vision; nevertheless, it is not a secret that project managers continue to be evaluated according to the short-term outcomes of the projects they manage [5].

And, in a highly interconnected, complex and unpredictable world where projects compete with each other [6], project managers are left in a unique position.

It is fair to say that project managers are called or involved at some level in decision-making regardless of the type of work, industry, or sector [7]. And, sometimes, these decisions are very important for the present and our future. For example, what decision would you make if you had to choose between building or not a neonatal intensive care unit that may threaten the financial stability of a hospital with the potential of becoming ground-breaking paediatric care for eight years after its completion?[7].

The world has a limited amount of resources, and we are facing time-critical issues like never before. Climate change, COVID-19, the wildfires in the United States and Australia, the refugee crisis, education (or the lack of it), and gender inequality are just some issues we cannot ignore anymore.

We cannot assume organizations or the government will always have our best interests in mind, and we cannot assume they are making the right decisions all the time. “There is a need for good project managers—professional project managers—who guarantee quality, competence, and integrity and a level of ethical concern on behalf of not only their clients, employers, or shareholders, but also for the individual and society as a whole ” [7]

We need project managers who consider the long-term impact of their actions and decisions, building value through investment and integrity and encouraging others to do so. Our world and our society depend on it.

So, how do you want your legacy to look? How would you like to be remembered?

Thank you to all of our front-line workers around the world, who never give up on us and are leaving a legacy for us to always remember.

I will miss you, dad.



1. https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20190214-does-rembrandts-the-night-watch-reveal-a-murder-plot

2. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/legacy

3. Pinto, J. (2016).Project management: achieving competitive advantage. 4th edn. Harlow, Essex: England Pearson Education Limited. – Page 35

4. Becca Leopkey & Milena M. Parent (2012) Olympic Games Legacy: From General Benefits to Sustainable Long-Term Legacy, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 29:6, 924-943, DOI: 10.1080/09523367.2011.623006  

5. Ika, L. (2009). Project success as a topic in project management journals. Project Management Journal, 40(4), 6-19. 

6. Gambles, I., (2016). Making The Business Case. London: Routledge. – Page 6

7. Konstantinou, E (2015). Professionalism in Project Management: Redefining the Role of the Project Practitioner. Project Management Journal, 46 (2), 21-35. doi: 10.1002/pmj. 21481

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