Posted by: kenwbudd | November 5, 2009

Innovative Project Managers needed

A good Project manager is not normally a dreamer or spontaneous. A Project managers must be practical, structured and systematic but at the same time they should be open to innovation.

Clearly they need to be structured and systematic to be successful at establishing strong plans and managing a project to implementation. A project manager must have a structured approach, to understand what step goes before another.

A structured, systematic approach is normally linear; it may be multiple paths performed simultaneously, but each individual path is still linear. Unfortunately, the innovative skills may not come as naturally to many project managers.

The act of innovating is defined as “the introduction of new things or methods.” In IT, we know that there is always a better way; the same can be said for how we manage a project. There are aspects of a company’s culture, personalities of key stakeholders, constraints, and limitations that call for a project manager to innovate.

You should view the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) standards as important guidelines but it is not an exact set of rules on how to manage every detail of the project. You should always be challenging yourself to come up with a new, more efficient way of doing things. Innovative project managers are questioning, they set aside “thinking time” to look at the challenge from multiple angles and truly challenge how they have always done things.

I’ve seen so many project managers repeatedly use what went well during the last project. It can makes life appear simple because the outcome is predictable but over time, you might find yourself going with a solution because you’re familiar with it and not necessarily because it’s the best one for the job.

The challenge for project managers is twofold:

Whenever you get that uncertain feeling that occurs when facing a new challenge, and you’re tempted to take one of your “comfortable” tools out of the toolbox, stop and take some time to think and innovate. Instead of repeating what’s familiar to you, come up with the best tool for the job.

When faced with a familiar challenge that you have the perfect tools to address, stop, take some think time, and look at the challenge from different angles. Now that you have used this tool successfully for so long, is there a way you can improve it, upgrade it, or replace it with the smarter, better model?

Establishing thinking time takes discipline. I don’t know any successful project manager who isn’t driving projects as hard as they can, dealing with crisis every day. Taking time to think, when time is at a premium has the best results; this thinking time is akin to the planning phase of a project.

When the stakeholder want immediate action, the older wiser project manager will understand that the more time spent in the thinking, planning phase leads to more successful project outcomes.

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