Lately, I have found myself more interested in the world of design with companies like IDEO and Frog Design but realizing I am grounded in project management and the Project Management Institute. It is a simple venn diagram but also frustrating because I want to figure out how I can combine the two and create what I like to call beautiful project management.
This led me to research new PM software tools because like it or not, the tools we use tend to predict what industries and markets we work in. Traditional project managers will tend towards Microsoft Project and Primavera. Design firms will probably start with Basecamp and branch out from there.
So when I discovered LiquidPlanner, I have to admit I started to develop a bit of an affinity for the Seattle based firm.
First, I love the advertisement that drew me in. I can't do it justice but basically it said, "Are you tired of Microsoft Project, well then check out LiquidPlanner." I have based most of my career on Microsoft Project so that immediately caught my eye.
When I began exploring their website, the phrase on the front page genuinely resonated with me and I hope it does with you too:
"Project management is central to innovation. The best project management software helps team embrace change and turn plans and ideas into reality."
Now what if you took phrase and extended it? What if you said, "Project management is central to innovation and helps designers creative beautiful ideas and solutions" or "Project management provides the innovation for beautiful ideas and solutions to flourish and thrive."
I need to walk through more iterations with that last phrase but hopefully you get the idea. Project management creates the structure and framework in which designers can live and create.
I think that is why I started to develop an affinity for LiquidPlanner. Like a lot of the newer project management software on the market, it takes some of the heavy lifting away from the project management team and helps folks get down to business quicker so they can create beautiful solutions which I think is the reason we all got into this business in the first place.
It also points out one of the next steps in the evolution of project management. I have always tried to stand on the side of the lake where project management is appreciated as an art form and where relationships, conversation, and collaboration define the standards. Processes are absolutely necessary but hopefully with software like LiquidPlanner, some of those processes can be automated into oblivion.
Also in keeping with the idea of evolution, I recommend exploring LiquidPlanner and other software like Basecamp to see what the new breed of project managers are using and developing. They have begun to figure out how to foster conversation and collaboration while maintaining the standards and processes we have come to expect in successful projects.
Thank you LiquidPlanner for showing me one way to create beautiful project management by combining sophisticated design with good old fashioned project management.
If you were to list out all the basic requirements for a successful project and more specifically leadership in your projects, would creativity be on that list? If not, I want to make an argument that it should be and share with you a fantastic resource to develop your own creative confidence.
Tim Cook of IDEO does a great job summarizing the theme of this post when he says,
"Creativity is an essetnial skill for leaders trying to make a difference. Yet developing the ability to think and act creatively remains a thorny challenge. While there's a hunger for skill development, elevating creative confidence doesn't happen via traditional modes of executie education."
IDEO U is an online school designed and delivered by IDEO to help you unlock your creative potential through design thinking and collaboration. Making sure your project delivers the greatest amount of value to your clients requires just as much creativity as it does grit, hard work, and innovation.
Some of the featured courses include:
Storytelling (coming soon)
When you think of creativity in the world of design, IDEO is usually one of the featured companies facilitating the conversation. So as I stated at the beginning, if you don't think creativity should be a basic requirement for becoming a better leader and delivering more value on your projects, check out these courses and let me know what you think.
To succeed in project management, hard work, grit and creativity are a powerful combination.
So whenever my family or friends ask me what I do, I always start out by answering, "I am a project manager, I help my clients manage their projects." The response is almost always a blank stare and that trend seems to be more prevelant lately.
If you read almost any project management or business publications, people tend to admire more technical and industry expertise rather than someone who is a "jack of all trades" which has been the path I have walked for my entire career. I always thought if I focused on universal skills and am able to help clients in any industry from education to IT and energy that I would be so popular I would have to hire my own publicist and public relations team but that has not been the case.
So I decided to earn my PMI-ACP and CSM certifications in the hopes of attracting more friends in design and software development but they currently are collecting dust on my shelf. I have tried to apply concepts and ideas from Scrum to self-directed learning but I will leave that for another blog post down the road. The goal of this post is to talk about what I have discovered while trying to gain more technial expertise in the growing industries of design and software development.
"We're not one of those companies. We are rethinking education from the bottom up. The web has rethought nearly everyting - commerce, social networking, healthcare, and more. We are building the education the world neds - the first truly net native education. We take more cues from Facebook and Zynga in creating an engaging education experience than we do from the clssrom"
You can check out the progress I have made so far on Codecademy at this link:
I have now started studying at Codeschool which does charge me a monthly fee of $29 but they have fantastic videos, podcasts, and curriculum so I think they are well worth the cost.
"Code School is an online learning destinatino for existing and apiring developers that teaches through entertaining content. Each course is built around a creative theme and storyline so that it feels like you're playing a game, not sitting in a classroom"
Of course there are a ton of other really great resources on coding but these are my favorite so far. My goal is to be become a more specialized "jack of all trades" and be abe to put my PMI-ACP and CSM certifications to full use in the design or coding communities. I find though I need to earn some street cred before folks in those communities accept me .
If these resources don't suit your fancy I also recommend checking out:
In a design firm, some of the most valuable developers are called "full stack developers" meaning they handle everything from the backend database to the front end user interface (UI) and everything in between. As project managers, it is easy to sometimes get locked in and focus just on risk management or schedule management. While those are important, a projet manager has to be a jack of all trade so she/he can travel through the different realms of a portfolio or program and still be successful while also talking to different clients in different cultures.
That is why I love proejct management, because I can travel anywhere and the basics of a project are the same. What changes is the language or requirements. I started studying coding so I could learn new languages which will hopefully open up new doors throughout the world.
I hope this post introduced you to new ideas that will hopefully open up new doors for you as well.