139 Project management quotes to inspire your project work
Last updated on: July 20, 2022
Motivational quotes about project management exist for a reason — they are teeny tiny life truths wrapped in the form of sentences. No matter how cliché these quotes may sound, their sheer existence is proof enough that there’s at least some accuracy in their words.
Although quotes tend to sound like overgeneralizations, we must agree on one thing — you’ve identified with a quote at least once in your lifetime.
Now, enough with the theory — let’s take a look at our selection of 139 best project management quotes, to unveil some vital truths about project management.
15 project management quotes to live by
Project management can be challenging — that’s why we’ve highlighted the best PM quotes to lift your spirits:
“Operations keeps the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organization forward.”— Joy Gumz
“The P in PM is as much about ‘people management’ as it is about ‘project management’.”— Cornelius Fichtner
“The best way to get a project done faster is to start sooner.”— Jim Highsmith
“A goal without a timeline is just a dream.”— Robert Herjavec
“The goal you set must be challenging. At the same time, it should be realistic and attainable, not impossible to reach. It should be challenging enough to make you stretch, but not so far that you break.”— Rick Hansen
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“There are no unrealistic goals, only unrealistic deadlines.”— Brian Tracy
“The smaller the function, the greater the management.”— C. Northcote Parkinson
“Be ready to revise any system, scrap any method, abandon any theory, if the success of the job requires it.”— Henry Ford
“One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.”— Arnold Glasow
“Done is better than perfect.”― Sheryl Sandberg
“The first rule of management is delegation. Don’t try and do everything yourself because you can’t.”— Anthea Turner
“To do two things at once is to do neither.”— Publilius Syrus
“Trying to manage a project without project management is like trying to play a football game without a game plan.”— Karen Tate
Now, if you don’t feel motivated yet, don’t worry — we’ve prepared a comprehensive list of project management quotes grouped by category.
So, keep reading this blog post to find a wise or witty quote you can instantly share within your team — it’ll kick-start your project team’s work day, any day.
General project management quotes
Project management is a complex process, each stage carrying different challenges.
However, all of these come down to one single umbrella term — project management.
So, what does PM entail and how do you define it?
Maybe some of these quotes answer your question.
“Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet.”― Henry Mintzberg
“Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.”— Paul Hawken
“The goal of management is to remove obstacles.”— Paul Orfalea
“If you find that your organization can’t make the hard decisions that Scrum demands, then high-risk, uncertain projects have very little probability of success in your organization.”— Jim Highsmith
“The secret to winning is constant, consistent management.”— Tom Landry
“Management must manage!”— Harold S. Geneen
“Every project is an opportunity to learn, to figure out problems and challenges, to invent and reinvent.”— David Rockwell
“A creative project is a moving target. You never end up where you start.”— Evangeline Lilly
“A project is complete when it starts working for you, rather than you working for it.”— Scott Allen
“Operations keeps the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organization forward.”— Joy Gumz
Quotes by project phases
As any project consists of 5 project phases, we’ve picked perfect quotes to fit each stage of your ongoing project:
- Monitoring and control
Initiation stage quotes
A proverb says — all beginnings are hard.
Here are some quotes to boost your confidence as you prepare to dive into a new project.
“Begin with the end in mind.”— Stephen Covey
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”— Walt Disney
“Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.”— Will Rogers
“You may delay, but time will not.”— Benjamin Franklin
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”— Abraham Lincoln
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Strategy is not the consequence of planning, but the opposite: its starting point.”— Henry Mintzberg
“If you’ve got an idea, start today. There’s no better time than now to get going. That doesn’t mean quit your job and jump into your idea 100% from day one, but there’s always small progress that can be made to start the movement.”— Kevin Systrom
Planning stage quotes
Some may say the planning stage is the most important stage in project management.
Well, they’re probably right — this stage is highly complex as it includes both managing the project and determining schedules and deadlines.
Here are some quotes to help you get through this phase.
“Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent return on energy!”— Brian Tracy
“Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal.”— Cornelius Fitchner
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”— Pablo Picasso
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”― Benjamin Franklin
“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.”— Greg S. Reid
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”— Jim Rohn
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather up the wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”— Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Execution stage quotes
In this stage of project management, it’s important to properly manage tasks, as well as people.
Moreover, managing communication within the team is vital in project management as, at the end of the day, it’s the people factor that determines project success.
Managing communication, tasks, and people is usually the job of the project manager.
So, we categorize execution stage quotes into task management and project manager quotes, depending on what they’re about.
Task management quotes
Organization is key when it comes to project execution.
If you’re in doubt about how to manage tasks in a productive way — learn from these task management quotes.
“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.”— Confucius
“No great manager or leader ever fell from heaven, it’s learned, not inherited.”― Tom Northup
“Simple rules guide innovative, intelligent responses. Comprehensive rules guide rote, routine responses.”— Jim Highsmith
“Technology and tools are useful and powerful when they are your servant and not your master”— Stephen Covey
“A task is not done until it is done.”— Louis Fried
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”— Peter Drucker
“A good system shortens the road to the goal”— Orison Sweet Marden
Project manager quotes
This is what the project manager is all about.
Here’s a list of quotes on the subject of project managers.
“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.”― John C. Maxwell
“Leaders who want to create adaptive, self-organizing teams steer rather than control — they influence, nudge, facilitate, teach, recommend, assist, urge, counsel, and, yes, direct in some instances.”― Jim Highsmith
“Communicate more than you think you have to.”— Elizabeth Harrin
“The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist.”— Zig Ziglar
“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.”― Robin S. Sharma
“All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. If we want different results, we must change the way we do things.”― Tom Northup
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”— Stephen Hawking
“People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.”— John C. Maxwell
“Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.”— Lee Iacocca
“Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.”— Colin Powell
“Practice Golden-Rule 1 of Management in everything you do. Manage others the way you would like to be managed.”— Brian Tracy
“The great myth is the manager as orchestra conductor. It’s this idea of standing on a pedestal and you wave your baton and accounting comes in, and you wave it somewhere else and marketing chimes in with accounting, and they all sound very glorious. But management is more like orchestra conducting during rehearsals, when everything is going wrong.”— Henry Mintzberg
Monitoring and control stage quotes
This stage includes supervising the operation and making sure that everything is running smoothly, i.e. being aware of any potential risks, whether performance- or budget-related.
In line with that, we categorize monitoring and control stage quotes into risk management and budget management quotes.
Risk management quotes
Every project carries some risks.
However, don’t despair — these quotes will keep you prepared for any challenge you face along the way.
“Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.”— Amelia Earhart
“The greatest risk we face in software development is that of overestimating our own knowledge.”— Jim Highsmith
“One of the best ways to create team safety is to create an environment in which team members feel safe to take risks.”— Johanna Rothman
“The real challenge in crafting strategy lies in detecting subtle discontinuities that may undermine a business in the future. And for that there is no technique, no program, just a sharp mind in touch with the situation.”— Henry Mintzberg
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.”— T.S. Eliot
“When a risk occurs, with some ingenuity, this may open up an opportunity, and conversely when pursuing an opportunity there will be associated risks. Risks are generally deemed acceptable if the possible gains exceed the possible losses.”— Rory Burke
💡 Plaky Pro Tip
Learn more about risk management here:
Budget management quotes
If you want a project to succeed — your budget needs to be well–organized.
Here are some quotes on budget management:
“A good estimate is an estimate that provides a clear enough view of the project reality to allow the project leadership to make good decisions about how to control the project to hit its targets.”― Steve McConnel
“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”— Benjamin Franklin
“Before you can really start setting financial goals, you need to determine where you stand financially.”— David Bach
“Money is hard to earn and easy to lose. Guard yours with care.”— Brian Tracy
Closure stage quotes
Roughly speaking, there are two possible outcomes to a project — it either succeeds or it fails.
Either way, we can quote on it.
So, we’ve prepared some quotes to reflect on both of the possible outcomes in the closure stage of a project.
Project success quotes
Isn’t project success the greatest wish of any project manager?
If your project’s outcome turns out to be positive, we’ve got some smart quotes to celebrate with.
“If you really want the key to success, start by doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing.”― Brad Szollose
“Peel back the facade of rigorous methodology projects and ask why the project was successful, and the answer is people.”— Jim Highsmith
“The man who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore.”― Dale Carnegie
“Success in management requires learning as fast as the world is changing.”— Warren Bennis
“I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.”— Abraham Lincoln
“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”— Conrad Hilton
“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”— Henry David Thoreau
“I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.”— G.K. Chesterton
“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”— Steve Jobs
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”— Colin Powell
“Winners are losers who got up and gave it one more try.”— Dennis DeYoung
Project failure quotes
The eternal question is: Why do projects fail?
However, success and failure are correlated — one doesn’t go without another. Now, let’s take a look at what famous people have to say about project failure.
“Today, excellent companies realize that project failures have more to do with behavioral shortcomings — poor employee morale, negative human relations, low productivity, and lack of commitment.”— Harold Kerzner
“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”— Zig Ziglar
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”— Robert H. Schuller
“Failure is success in progress.”— Albert Einstein
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”— Charles R. Swindoll
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”— Thomas A. Edison
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”— Samuel Beckett
“A blanket attempt to avoid mistakes is the biggest mistake of all.”― Steve McConnell
“If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.”— Zig Ziglar
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”— Mark Twain
“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.”— Richard Branson
“Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”— Coco Chanel
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”— Thomas Edison
“Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.”— Zig Ziglar
Quotes on setting project goals and priorities
As for your project to succeed, above all, you must set clear and realistic goals.
Here’s what wise people have to say about goal setting:
“Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.”— Brian Tracy
“A goal properly set is halfway reached.”— Zig Ziglar
“People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.”— Elon Musk
“I think goals should never be easy. They should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time.”— Michael Phelps
“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”— Zig Ziglar
“If you do not know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.”— Henry A. Kissinger
“Management by objective works – if you know the objectives. Ninety percent of the time you don’t.”— Peter Drucker
“If you want to reach a goal, you must ‘see the reaching’ in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.”— Zig Ziglar
“First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”― Aristotle
“Set realistic goals, keep re-evaluating, and be consistent.”— Venus Williams
Quotes on project deadlines
Deadlines are one of the most important factors when it comes to project delivery.
However, if you want them to be beneficial — you should keep them clear and realistic.
Here are some project deadline quotes to help you with that.
“Begin with the end in mind.”— Dr. Stephen R. Covey
“Goals are dreams with deadlines.”— Diana Scharf
“The moment you put a deadline on your dream, it becomes a goal.”— Harsha Bhogle
“How does a project get to be a year late? One day at a time.”— Fred Brooks
“You may con a person into committing to an unreasonable deadline, but you cannot bully them into meeting it.”— Edwards, Butler, Hill & Russell
“Beware the time-driven project with an artificial deadline.”— Michael S. Dobson
“Time is the scarcest resource and, unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.”— Peter Drucker
Agile project management quotes
Are you curious to know what professionals have to say about Agile project management?
Here are some interesting quotes worth sharing.
“Agility is the ability to adapt and respond to change… agile organizations view change as an opportunity, not a threat.”— Jim Highsmith
“Agility is principally about mindset, not practices.”― Jim Highsmith
“Scrum focuses on being agile which may (and should) lead to improving. Kanban focuses on improving, which may lead to being agile.”— Karl Scotland
“APM focuses on team management, from building self-organizing teams to developing a servant leadership style. It is both more difficult, and ultimately more rewarding than managing tasks.”― Jim Highsmith
“In an agile project the team takes care of the tasks and the project leader takes care of the team.”― Jim Highsmith
“Thriving in today’s marketplace frequently depends on making a transformation to become more agile.”― Scott M. Graffius
“The important thing is not your process. The important thing is your process for improving your process.”— Henrik Kniberg
“Planning is a quest for value.”— Mike Cohn
“Focus on idle work not idle workers to achieve fast, flexible flow.”— Ken Rubin
“Agility means that you are faster than your competition. Agile time frames are measured in weeks and months, not years.”— Michael Hugos
“Agile teams produce a continuous stream of value, at a sustainable pace, while adapting to the changing needs of the business.”— Elisabeth Hendrickson
“Agile is like Churchill’s democracy, the worst possible solution until compared to the alternatives.”— David Starr
“Agility is the ability to both create and respond to change in order to profit in a turbulent business environment.”— Jim Highsmith
💡 Plaky Pro Tip
Learn more about Agile project management here:
Amusing quotes about project management
Whatever the outcome of your project may be, our best advice is — always look on the bright side.
Here are some fun quotes to brighten your mood when managing projects
“The secret of successful managing is to keep the five guys who hate you away from the four guys who haven’t made up their minds.”— Casey Stengel
“I’m a project manager, not a magician. Magicians have way cooler hats.”— Merlin Mann
“Project management is like juggling three balls – time, cost and quality. Program management is like a troupe of circus performers standing in a circle, each juggling three balls and swapping balls from time to time.”— Geoff Reiss
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”— Douglas Adams
“If an IT project works the first time, it was in your nightly dreams. Time to wake up and get to work.”— Cornelius Fichtner
“Progress doesn’t come from early risers – progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things.”— Robert Heinlein
“Project managers are the most creative people in the world. We have to figure out everything that could go wrong before it does.”— Fredrik Haren
“Project management is the art of creating the illusion that any outcome is the result of a series of predetermined, deliberate acts when, in fact, it was dumb luck.”— Harold Kerzner
“Why do so many professionals say they are project managing, when what they are actually doing is fire fighting?”— Colin Bentley
“The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.”― Lorne Michaels
“My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each others’ negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts.”— Steve Jobs
“At times, project managers seem to forget that many of the conventional forms, charts, and tables that they must fill out are intended to serve as aids, not punishments.”— Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, and Sutton
Conclusion: Quotes show the real picture of project management
To sum up, project management has existed for quite a long time and has been the key to success for many admirable people — and here lies the whole point of quotes — discovering truths and learning from other people’s experiences.
🏆 Here are 3 BONUS quotes to keep for life:
“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”— Elon Musk
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”— Bill Gates
“Just try new things. Don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zones and soar, all right?”— Michelle Obama
So, whether project management is a fairly new concept to you, or you’re an experienced project manager, be sure to always stay open to other people’s stories — there’s a chance you’ll hear your own voice echoing in their words.