Obama’s Inaugural Address and… Project Management?


Barack & Michelle Obama

Barack & Michelle Obama

On Tuesday, January 20th, Barack Obama gave his Inaugural Address to an audience of 37.8 million TV viewers, which was the largest audience for an inaugural speech in decades. This speech marked an extraordinary event in that it was the Inauguration of the first African American President, and also in that it was the initiation of one of the most important projects of the century: Reviving the country from a severe economic depression.

Barack’s inaugural speech demonstrates how his Presidential term is, in fact, a project.  PMI defines a project as “… a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.” Obama’s inaugural speech reveals many key aspects of his Presidential term that are characteristic of a project and how he plans to implement project management tools and techniques.

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), is created by the Project Management Institute (PMI), and states the five basic Project Management Processes, which are: Initiation, Planning, Execution, Control, and Closing.

To illustrate Barack Obama’s presidential term as a Project, and his application of Project Management tools and techniques, I have selected key quotes from his inaugural speech that demonstrate the five basic Project Management Processes.

Initiation- “I thank President Bush for his service to our nation as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.” – This signifies the end of Bush’s presidential period and the beginning, or initiation, of Barack’s presidency.

Planning- “Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.” This excerpt shows the need for adequate planning in order tackle the obstacles that the current President faces.

Execution- “Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met.”  To execute a successful presidential term, Barack will need to direct and manage project execution, perform quality assurance, and acquire develop a project team.

Control- “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, car they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.” Barack and his team will use work performance information and performance reports to provide resolutions of issues for the nation.

Closing- “America, in the face of our common dangers, in the winter of our hardships, let us remember these timeless words; with hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come; let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generation.”  The deliverables of Barack’s presidency are stated here as the gift of freedom being delivered to future generation, which will signify the closing of Barack’s completed and fulfilled presidential term.

Barack Obama is undoubtedly a brilliant person, an eloquent speaker, and a charismatic leader. I am hopeful and confident that his Project Management skills are reflective of his many other positive attributes.


Kristen LaBrosse, CAPM




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