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The Art of Project Management

        posted by , March 17, 2013

Project management is often described in scientific terms — as a collection formal standards and methodologies.

Standards such as PMBOK Guide (PMI) and PRINCE2 are extensive. So extensive, that they leave little to the imagination.

Standard project management processes and practices are critical to projects. However, project management success is more than applying a methodology.

Project management is an art.

A robot can execute a well defined project management standard with complete accuracy but robots are terrible project managers. Robots don't get art.

If you look at project management as an art, how would you describe it?

The following soft skills are essential to project management. They are more art than science.

1. Project Managers Are Leaders

Just try managing a major project without leadership skills — it's not going to work.

It's not possible to plan, organize and control a project without leading.

Liberty Leading the People
(Eugène Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People commemorates the French Revolution)

2. Project Managers Are Influencers

Authority is good, influence is better. Influencing is how project issues and hurdles are cleared in the real world.

The Political Discussion
(Émile Friant's The Political Discussion)

3. Project Managers Motivate Teams

Successful projects are the product of motivated teams.

Teams will low engagement and commitment have little chance of delivering complex projects. The project manager plays a leading role in building and motivating teams.

Pulling the boat to sea
(Oscar Björck's Putting the Boat to Sea)

4. Project Managers Are Negotiators & Diplomats

Projects are a long series of negotiations.

Establishing and managing procurement relationships typically consumes a great deal of project management focus. Your project vendors will be sophisticated negotiators. At very least, project managers need to be able to swim with the sharks. Top project managers are typically brilliant negotiators.

Issue resolution also resembles negotiation. Project managers employ diplomatic techniques to facilitate issue and conflict resolution.

The Representatives of Foreign Powers
(Henri Rousseau's The Representatives of Foreign Powers Coming to Greet the Republic as a Sign of Peace)

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