August 30, 2010
Finding something that works — whether it is a process, methodology, or system — can be a defining moment. It means we have succeeded in our hard work to develop an approach that is in alignment with our core beliefs. If the quality of outputs increases because of a tried-and-true process, who wouldn’t be happy?
But project management doesn’t stop there. Never settle for what seems to work. Instead, pat yourself on the back, and then get back to work at refining.
Good project management processes, methodologies, and systems maintain an expected level of quality, but the excellent ones — the ones no one can match — continually strive for new levels of quality.
Achieving excellence is obviously no easy feat, but the path is there, and the only way to begin traveling down that path is by adapting what I call the three pillars of learning.
So you made a mistake on a project. Maybe it was a small slip up, or maybe your mistake had dire consequences. Excellence does not equate to perfection. Rather, mistakes are an ingredient of excellence. If you never know what is wrong or improper, or what doesn’t work, how can you know what will work? Mistakes give us the clarity to see better processes, methodologies, and systems — and once you reach a better way, you’ll discover more mistakes, which will allow you to jump to an even better approach.
You should never be afraid to make mistakes. How can you apply this to your current project load?
While learning from yourself is a great avenue toward advancement, it’s not entirely objective or conclusive. For that, you need a feedback mechanism — the client. As the end user of your project management style, clients can give you valuable input and feedback on your processes, methodologies, and systems. Ultimately, they are the ones who decide to give you money, so what they say should be of the utmost importance.
Project management doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Learn from your clients. How can you apply this to your current project load?
Left alone, you can probably come up with some great ideas, which — when bounced off clients — can further be refined. However, ideas generated from isolation don’t have the benefit of real world experience. For this, you’ll need to turn to others — people who have practiced new and different processes, methodologies, and systems, and have written or spoken about it, either in a book, article, blog post, podcast, or presentation. The ideas of others can spark a new flame of creativity within you that will fuel even more refinement of your original inspiration.
The outside world has done much of the hard work for you. How can you apply this to your current project load?
And finally, what about learning from team members? I approached this topic from the solo project manager standpoint, who also wears the hat of the designer and developer, but for larger organizations, there often exists others who specialize in certain aspects of the project work. These people — your team members — can also serve as a vital source for growing your project management techniques, but I will hold that off for a different post.
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