It’s rare to hear Project Management and Beauty in the same sentence. Despite the challenges that we face as project managers, there is a vast amount of beauty found within the project management profession. Below is a reason why we may not see this beauty and some areas we can look to find it.
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I recently went on a business trip to visit one of my favorite clients. The flight landed about 4:30 in the afternoon, and I arrived at the hotel an hour later. Having gone through this drill a million times before, I went through the motions of paying the cab driver, registering at the hotel, and heading to the elevator without a second thought. The elevator doors opened and I walked in. I turned my back against the rear wall and looked down at my phone to check my email on the ride up.
My room was on the 19th floor, but something felt very different when we stopped at about the 5th floor. The elevator felt bigger for some reason, but I kept my head down, focused on deleting email after email. After the doors closed and we began moving again, something really didn’t feel right, and it caused me to look up. I then realized I was in a glass elevator going up the outside of the hotel, with amazing views all around! Cars were scurrying back and forth in the twilight below and the sun was just beginning to set over the Mississippi River in the distance.
Had I not lifted my head up, I would have missed one of the nicest moments of that trip! The same thing can happen to us as project managers. We become so preoccupied with adminis-trivia that we seldom look at the beauty around us. We get so heads down in our work, running from meeting to meeting, that we forget to lift our heads up and look at the beauty around us. If you haven’t taken the time to see what is beautiful about project management, here are a few things for your consideration:
Do you know what it feels like when the tires on your car are not aligned? The ride is either rough as the wheels work against each other, or the car may pull in one direction. You would certainly end up in a ditch if you weren’t constantly correcting the path of your car. Once the tires are aligned its back to smooth sailing, and you appreciate your tire guy all the more.
Do you know what it feels like to work at a company that is not aligned? It’s a bumpy ride as different departments work against each other. Or, one department may be so strong that it causes the company to veer off in the wrong direction and fall into calamity. Only when everyone’s goals and expectations are properly aligned can you appreciate the beauty of organizational unity!
That’s where you come into play as a project manager. You can bring alignment to your organization regardless of your level of influence. You may be managing just one project or dozens of projects through your PMO. There’s beauty in knowing that these projects are aligned with company strategy, billing goals, and departmental agendas.
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A university recently studied the value of the orchestral conductor, the argument being that highly proficient musicians with the score in front of them don’t need a guy in a tux standing in front waving his arms.
In the experiment, small red laser lights were attached to the tips of the player’s bows as well as the baton of the conduct. Special cameras were then used to record the timing and direction of where these lights were pointing. Then, one piece of music was played with an expert conductor leading the orchestra. The same piece of music was played with an amateur conductor. The analysis of the path of the lights that resulted from the musicians moving their bows indicated that they do indeed follow the conductor. What’s more, experts who listened to just the music (not knowing whether it was an expert or amateur conductor) always picked the expert conductor.
That’s the beauty of your job as a project manager. You keep everyone synchronized and making beautiful music together. Your team members look to you for direction and follow your lead. You may work with a group of highly skilled, educated and self-sufficient resources that could do the job themselves. But, it’s your leadership that keeps everyone on the same page…literally.
Someone who is skilled at their craft always makes it look easy. But, it wasn’t always easy. It took years of trial and error, making mistakes and learning from them before they reached a high level of accomplishment.
Take a moment and reflect on when you first started out as a project manager. You tried to do the best you could, but you had a lot to learn. You made tons of mistakes along the way, picked yourself up and kept moving forward. Years passed and you now make project management look easy. Use best project management software to make your work easy.
Don’t take all that experience for granted. What may have started as a jumbled mess when you took over is now a smooth running machine as a result of your ongoing quest for improvement and lessons learned. Your team members will appreciate your constant improvement even though they may not vocalize their sentiments. Taking something that is complicated and making it look easy is a beautiful thing because of what it represents!
Team cohesion is something that takes time, but is probably one of the most beautiful aspects of project management. This is when a group of people have been through hell and high water together and stick together. They have pulled the all-nighters to meet a looming deadline. They have been stuck waiting in airports together, having missed their flight because of a problem that popped up while they were visiting a client. They have done scores of presentations together and are to the point that they can just about finish each other’s sentences.
Each person knows what is expected of them, and they know each other’s strengths. More importantly, they have come to learn each other’s weaknesses and compensate for them accordingly. You have a big part to play in this as a project manager as you orchestrate how well the team works, and sticks, together.
To see the beauty of project management, just look up! We can become so bogged down in meetings, drama, issues, emails, reports, and disappointment that we never lift up our heads and look around. Think about this the next time you step into an elevator. You may not have the same view that a glass elevator affords, but you can look up mentally. Take a few moments and reflect on what you’ve done as a project manager. The view will be awesome!