There are some subjects that just inspire a deep desire to switch off and even possibly outright fall asleep. It would be tactless to list any in case for you that particular topic is a life passion – but if you ponder for more than a few seconds you’ll come up with some usual suspects. For many, one such subject is Project Management (come on, stay with me…).
So it was a delight to just come across a simple video produced by the Association for Project Management (make your own suggestions for possible titles to feature as guest publication on “Have I got news for you?”) entitled “What is project management?”
Watching this fun, fast-paced, jargon-free and accessible short video may just remind you why PM is just so necessary and (like most management disciplines) just good common sense.
I recall the first practical exercise I had to plan during early PM training – the “how to make a cup of tea” challenge. All of you constantly disappointed by cold water tea know the benefits of executing a plan in its most logical order. Most of us do the things we do based on some form of plan but our personality type and attitude to work and others all inform the way we approach those things; sometimes it is fun to just not have a plan and go with it, though that’s not the attitude you want from the pilot of your transatlantic flight.
What I like about the video – and indeed about the whole business of delivering projects – is the emphasis on people. Martin Barnes, former APM President said “At its most fundamental, project management is about people getting things done” and it is the people that make PM such a real activity; human, emotional, unpredictable, requiring as many interpersonal and communication skills as experience with the tools of the trade. Producing a comprehensive product backlog or a beautifully linked Gantt chart are all next to worthless if nobody involved knows what is happening or the real requirements are never fully uncovered.
All of which can of course encourage an approach to getting things done that negates planning altogether and focusses instead on just rolling up your sleeves and working really hard for as long as it takes. The video may encourage you to stop briefly before embarking upon getting things done with other people, to consider what is really required, what must be done, and by when. We are all managers of projects though as with Luke Skywalker, the force is only really strong within those born to be PMs; so if you don’t have one – get one and maybe leave the detail to them.