By Veronica Thraen / March 8, 2021
A few years back, I worked with an intern who asked if I had step-by-step instructions on how to manage a project from start to finish. This is a legitimate question especially if you are new to the profession or used to being in a position where stringent policies and procedures need to be followed to a T. However, not all projects are alike, and each requires an execution strategy no matter how small or large.
Many articles have been published around choosing the right methodology for managing projects. In fact, “The Emergence of Hybrid Project Management Approaches” is one of the 6 trends emerging in 2021. But choosing the right methodology is just one decision a PM must make to ensure their project delivery is successful.
In addition to the right methodology, being flexible and decisive is essential in project management, and having a creative knack can also boost a PMs ability to successfully lead teams and enhance stakeholder relationships. Here are 3 examples:
#1: Get the team up and running with creative training techniques
There’s no rule that says that a certain methodology must be followed by the book. I’ve managed several projects using various methodologies and have always adjusted the process to best fit the needs of the team. But what if the team is not familiar with the methodology?
Example: A colleague of mine works with teams that are new to Agile/Scrum techniques. He came up with a great approach to get their feet wet by picking one or two product features and working through a full “sprint” in just one day. The team can define the feature(s), estimate, assign, design, develop, test, fix bugs, retest, and review with the product owner. This is a quick way to get the team used to the process and see immediate results.
#2: Kickstart a meeting and improve team participation with these ideas
We’ve all experienced meetings that last longer than necessary with little to no participation from attendees. Depending on the meeting topic and audience, a PM can get creative with the agenda to help engage participants and get the results required to move the project forward.
Example: Try making recurring meetings—like product reviews or monthly/quarterly updates—more engaging by including some trivia questions before the meeting starts. Or ask each participant to share something about themselves—for example, their favorite subject in school, their dream travel destination, etc. It helps the teams get to know each other better and increases group involvement.
#3: Change course to adapt to new challenges
Entrepreneur Robert Herjavec said it best, “Don't be afraid to change course. No matter what challenges are thrown your way, be ready to pivot and adapt.” This relates to projects as well. A PM may be in the middle of a project and realize that the process being used is not working out quite right.
Example: There was a large, complex IT project that required a significant amount of planning due to the number of end users affected. The plan was to implement in sequential phases because of the approvals required; however, the team had just days to plan, not the luxury of weeks. The PM updated the plan to an accelerated version of each phase, which provided just enough time for the team to deliver a quality project but also met the communication, approval, and delivery expectations of the stakeholders.
Creative problem-solving is the hallmark of an effective project manager. Allowing PMs the freedom to be creative not only drives team engagement and delights stakeholders, but it also ensures a higher degree of overall project success.
Northeastern University Graduate Programs Blog - https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/project-management-trends/
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