A couple of weeks ago I tried to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. I say tried because I eventually became so frustrated by Matt Lauer’s and Meredith Vieira’s endless stream of intrusive babble that I switched the whole thing off. From what I saw, the ceremony had been painstakingly designed by its Olympic hosts to tell a story. The producers of the event had obviously worked hard to weave together a collection of objects, images, performers and music to create a spectacular narrative that highlighted Russia’s history. Was it mere propaganda? Was it an idealized rewriting of history? Frankly, I can’t say because every time I started to become absorbed by the narrative and allow its images and music to carry me along with it, Lauer or Vieira would yank me out of the story line with their own narrative
If you’re a project manager then you know what it’s like to feel frazzled, distracted and jerked in a thousand different directions. And you also know what it’s like to watch other people doing the work of your project (creating the code, writing the scripts, building the prototypes, etc.) while you bounce back and forth among these folks looking for problems and figuring out how to remove obstacles. And you might be thinking that such a thankless existence is a bad thing that should be remedied. But before you spend a lot of time searching for the latest “5-Step Plan for Controlling Chaos” let me suggest this alternative: Simply relax into the blur that is your PM existence. Embrace it. After all, it’s completely normal… necessary… even desirable that someone with your judgment and experience play this part. This story from my first book, ID Project Management , explains: “In the early ’60s, when TV variety shows flourished, a strange little man would sometimes appear on Ed Sullivan’s stage and fill it with plates rapidly spinning high atop long, slender poles. You may have seen him
A few years ago I was contracted to build a two-week long technical course for a major high-tech client. A fairly large effort, our project’s finished deliverables included self-study materials, job aids, studio-produced video case study scenarios and instructor guides — in short, we were building a complete, integrated training system with a lot of moving parts. My team of independent contractors consisted of five training developers (instructional designers), a print production coordinator and a video production subcontractor.* After several difficult weeks of interviewing the client’s in-house SMEs, gathering information, brainstorming and welding together a cohesive course design, we rolled out our first major deliverable, our Blueprint (an integrated training design plan). My contract stipulated that our Blueprint would be formally approved by the client, in writing, before we moved on to the next phase, which would be developing our fully fleshed-out first drafts of all materials and video scripts. Love Is In The Air! … Maybe … On Blueprint approval day we sat down with our client project representative, a big, friendly bear of a guy who had been truly supportive of all our efforts. One by one each designer presented his or her portion of the Blueprint, while the the video producer presented the treatments for the matching scenarios. The client was delighted! After each team member’s presentation, he praised their work, noting his appreciation of specific challenges they had overcome or creative leaps they had made.
This article summarizes a process by which you can create a comprehensive, locally-relevant set of “ PM Job Tasks and Competencies Based on Job Level” that can serve as the foundation of your organization’s unique PM Job Model. This, in turn, can be used as a powerful reference tool to guide the evolution of each project manager’s individual career, including helping structure performance evaluations, coaching, PM training and education, and HR initiatives related to PM and PM career development. The Steps to Follow Below, in a highly condensed form, are the steps to follow. ( * Note: Some of these steps — those marked with an * — are discussed in greater detail, with links to helpful resources, in my article/PDF titled Do-It-Yourself PM Certification: How to Document Your Skills & Get the Credibility You’ve Earned without Jumping Through Someone Else’s Hoops ) Find a comprehensive list of generic PM skills (asapm, GAPPS, Prince2, PMBOK, etc.).* Study your chosen list of skills to be sure you understand the implications of each skill for PM job performance.* Edit this list and use it as the foundation to create your own, unique, comprehensive list of PM skills.* Contact project managers, supervisors, respected colleagues, experts, customers, or anyone who might help you refine and edit this list and ask them to provide detailed input.* (Consider using formal information gathering tools or processes such as those used to support a needs analysis, performance analysis, etc.) Summarize the annotated skills list and sequence them according to a logical progression that would reflect a PM career in your organization. Create a draft PM Job Tasks & Competencies Based on Job Level (See example below.) Share this draft with anyone who participated in Step 4 (above) and ask for their feedback, changes, etc. Revise and finalize your PM Job Tasks & Competencies Based on Job Level and begin integrating it into your a) PM performance evaluations, 2) PM coaching, 3) PM training and education and 4) related HR initiatives. Sample Table: PM Job Tasks & Competencies Based on Job Level Below is a “genericized” table showing PM Job Tasks & Competencies Based on Job Level .
[This post is part of the #PMFlashBlog event “What does project management mean to me?” Scroll to the end for event details.**] Sometimes it takes someone on the outside looking in to provide you with that “whack on the side of the head” that changes the meaning of what you are doing. Such was the case with this simple email from a student. A while back I taught an online class based on my Book, The Project Management Minimalist . After the class I received this email from one of the attendees: “Thank you for your class, ‘Become a Project Management Minimalist!’ The practical tools and skills-in-attitude you teach are a source of inspiration and clarity for me. As a young project manager with a passion for social impact, I’m clear that the tools you share will help me become an effective presence for my community and teams. Project management as you teach it is truly a technology of manifestation! – Best Wishes, Soheil Majd ” As you might imagine, I’m always glad to get good feedback from a class participant. Most of the time, when I teach one of these online classes, I feel a bit like The Maytag Repairman: I’m fairly sure I provided a useful product, but I seldom hear much feedback from the attendees. But beyond the fact that someone took the trouble to thank me, Soheil’s email really stuck with me. I found myself going back and reading it several times, largely because of the unusual perspective he expressed about my session. Here are some of his unexpected insights that stuck with me: “… practical tools and skills-in-attitude… are a source of inspiration and clarity…” Now I am well aware that my classes focus on practical tools and skills