Project Management

Fostering and Facilitating Creativity Into the Project Management Process

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

When thinking about the project management process, most of us think about governance, process maturity, protocols and structure. Yet, when it comes to finding ways around roadblocks, generating ideas and innovating solutions, we often find ourselves embracing the more creative side of things. How often have you heard someone say, “We need to think outside the box” or “Let’s put on our thinking caps”?

Managing projects is mostly rooted in a creative process that is bound by some level of constraints and approved practices. If managing projects were merely a set of steps that could be executed in a routine fashion, the success rate would be close to 100%, with budget compliance and on-time delivery being the norm. But even the best thought-out project plans run into challenges because change is always afoot and finds a way to toss curve balls and monkey wrenches into the process on a routine basis.

When faced with a need to deviate from the plan, project managers have a major tool in their arsenal: creativity. It is through the creative process that new ways of doing are found. Creativity spurs exploration, fosters our curiosity and tickles our ability to think laterally—all things that lead to finding solutions to unanticipated obstacles and problems.

But the creative process begins way before the project plan is executed. It begins …

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