The Dangers of Visual Project Management

PMI Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

In case you have not noticed, this month’s theme at ProjectManagmenet.com is “Visual Project Management”. I was excited when I heard about this since I am a big fan of adding meaning to all kinds of project elements, whether it is methodology scope, project progress or risk lists using visual tools. As a visual thinker, I like to make sense of a concept spatially before adding detail or explaining it to others. Yet I have found this to be a weakness as well as a strength, because what cannot easily be visualized can often get trivialized or forgotten.

Plans and prototypes are great because they easily bring people together to debate and collaborate on important project elements. Since we have something to point at and annotate, discussions and agreements progress quickly because consensus making is greatly facilitated. However, what about conflict management, decision making across teams or business engagement issues? These are more difficult to visualize but arguably more important than if a website should have a blue or a green background.

The idiom “Out of sight, out of mind” speaks to the dangers of an overreliance on visual management.  So how do we address this threat? I believe there are two main choices: first, find a way to somehow make it visible; or second, consciously bring extra attention to it.

Another project …

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"Whatever does not destroy me makes me stronger."

- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

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