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.
I recently enjoyed a wonderful post on the Lazy Project Manager blog about Sexy Project Management. As usual, Mr. Peter Taylor wrote a fantastic post and luckily I didn't have to walk too far for a cold shower afterwards.
It reminded me though of a similar conversation I had with an old high school friend who works at Legwork in Denver, Colorado, USA. They pride themselves on creativity, innovation, and a strong DIY ethos. Check out one of their "reels" which they use to showcase their portfolio and you will see what I mean. Just like every other company in the world, Legwork uses project management to create some amazingly beautiful products.
Last year, Legwork partnered with Mode Set, an agile software development company, and Oh Heck Yeah, to deliver an amazing experience to the streets of Denver, Colorado. How cool would it be to step into a real live video game?
Most of my experience has been spent in consulting so when I saw these amazing projects, I started asking myself, "What does beautiful project management look like?" Is it based on the products and services delivered or is it based on the processes and procedures used throughout the project? I am sure it is a mix of both but is there a common pattern? Is it like a piece of artwork where it is hard to describe why it is beautiful but you just know it when you see it?
For, me I tend to ask this question when I see projects that fall in the realms of design, non-profit, or cutting edge projects like the work Tesla and Space X are doing. Of course the more I type and think about it, I could start talking about what it took to design the space shuttle or land on the moon.
So again, what does beautiful project management look like? For me, it seems to rest on what is delivered and what value it provides to the community. Just like a play or musical, you fall in love with the performance on stage but behind the scenes, it feels and sometimes looks like chaos but the experience on stage is what will be remembered.
So I obviously don't have the answer and I didn't intend to provide an answer. Instead I wanted to share the work of a company and community in Denver that I greatly admire which has sparked me to ask some questions about project management I don't typically think of.
So I ask you, what does beautiful project management look like? What do you remember from your projects? What do you want the stakeholders to take away from your projects? What experience and value do you hope to deliver?