Project Management

Good Enough For Van Gogh

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at

Creativity and sound project management processes are not mutually exclusive. History’s most innovative artists were still guided by disciplined methods; so, too, today’s creative project managers, and most of them haven’t lost an ear in the process.

Just when you think you can operate with some basic assumptions, life hands you a lesson in what happens when you assume. My last column began a new series — which will explore the practical things that work and don’t work in managing projects. In it, I raised the inherent frustration that many encounter regarding process – it is often imposed, but so rarely followed. The underlying assumption — that process itself is not a bad thing but is often still viewed as something ‘for other people’ — was responded to by many with a positive recognition that this truly reflected their world. Others, however, reacted strongly to the very premise of process delivering value. One reader described the idea of adhering to a process, “however well-crafted,” as “obsessive, compulsive or autistic.”
What fascinates me about this discussion is how many project managers seem to believe that the height of creativity is their ability to create new management practices. If this were true, we never would have gotten to the wheel – we’d just have a lot of forms …

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"Bad artists always admire each other's work."

- Oscar Wilde