January 20th, 2010

Project Management as fun as chocolate truffles?


it's amazing how much chocolate gets stuck under your fingernails when you make truffles

If you read the About Me page, you’ll know that I am passionate about many things in my life. Oddly enough (even I am surprised), after all of these years, and all of these ups and downs, I am still passionate about project management.

If you read the About Me page (are you getting the hint yet?), you’ll notice that I was rather reluctant to get certified as a PMP. However, in the process of studying for the exam (with visions of scrapbooking stores dancing in my head) (hint! read the About Me page!), something funny happened.

I appreciated even more the discipline, and the art, of Project Management. (See the capital letters? Intentional.)

Sadly, my appreciation for this profession is not shared, as witnessed by how others perceive this profession. I have many annoying conversations about Project Management, which usually fall into one of these three categories:

1. With people in general: “I seem to get whatever I need done without all of those spreadsheets and other complicated tools that you Project Managers use.”

2. With project stakeholders: “What do you mean you need more time and money just to do this last-minute teensy weensy change?” “What do you mean you needed a lead engineer six months ago to execute your project? Can’t you do that part?”

3. With junior project managers (unworthy of capital letters as you’ll see in a moment): “Yeah, I heard about PMBOK. But it doesn’t apply to our industry, which is too new, too fast-paced, too cool, too (insert adjective here) for complicated project management tools.”

I try very hard to resist slapping every single one of these groups of people on the head when they say these things to me.

Mainly because, well, that would be wrong. Very wrong. But also because I realize that it’s kind of our fault that these groups of people have such misconceptions about Project Management.

We are our own worst enemy. Because we live in a world of almost impossible mandates (little or no resources where sometimes failure is the only inevitable outcome), we have become used to living in between a rock and a hard place. This makes us so numb that either we’ve given up completely, or when we’re together, we complain about “them”, using obscure acronyms that only we understand, like a secret club.

We need to make Project Management easy for everyone to understand. We need to get everyone else to understand that, by helping us, we can help them. It’s a win-win.

We need to make Project Management…gasp!…fun. Like chocolate truffles. And even…dare I say it?…cool.  Like street art.

I hope you don’t think I am crazy now. Instead, I hope that you are just a little curious. Better yet, I hope you’ll at least dare me (Do it! Dare me!) to make this profession sound even remotely fun or cool or both.

I also hope that you’ll pop in once in a while and find out that maybe, just maybe, I’m not that crazy after all.

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