During my tenure as a project manager I have learned many valuable lessons about managing successful projects. Some of these lessons I’ve found to be applicable to my life outside of projects and information technology. Here are three project management concepts to live by.
“It takes 9-months to develop a baby, no matter how many people you assign to the task,” is a favorite expression among Project Managers. When managing a project there is sometimes a desire to “hurry the project along” by adding more people to a task. Experienced Project Managers know that this usually fails to move a project along – and can often slow a project down. Patience is a virtue.
Some things just can’t be hurried. Both in life and projects, how we handle our expectations and time is just as important as the task at hand. While “a watched pot never boils,” it provides an opportunity to prep your ingredients. Toasters toast at their own pace, the Sunday driver will enjoy the scenery, and my one-year-old son will talk when he’s ready – regardless of how often I say, “Da-da.”
Go around it
A popular example of risk management used by Project Managers is that of the road and the house. It goes something like this: Let’s say you need to walk from point A to point B. Two “risks” in your way are a busy road and a house. For the first we apply risk mitigation by utilizing the crosswalk. For the second we use risk avoidance to “go around the house.” It’s a pretty simple idea.
However, I often find myself and others trying their darndest to go through the house, or tear it down, or build a ramp over it. If you were standing in front of a house and needed to get to the back of the house (and presumably didn’t have access to the inside) the easiest path is to go around it.
When I am confronted with one of life’s “risks” – an obstacle, challenge, or problem to solve – I first ask myself, “Can this be circumvented – if yes, what are the costs of doing so?” Time and time again I’ve found that aggravation can be avoided and time that can be save by appropriately circumventing a risk.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Probably the most important thing a Project Manager does is communicate. They communicate with the project team members, sponsors, committees, customers, and stakeholders. They keep everyone on the same page, focused on the tasks at hand, and solicit feedback and information at every stage. Communication plays a vital part of the success of a project and cannot be overlooked or underestimated.
In life this couldn’t be truer – communication is the foundation of practically everything we do. It’s how we resolve conflict, build bonds, grow relationships, and express ourselves. The value of communication cannot be underestimated and this tool can rarely be over-utilized. The success of “life’s projects” often depends on how well communication is utilized.
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