January 19, 2018


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

I Want To Be A Project Manager When I Grow Up Part 2

Take Project Management Out-of-the-box

project manager

This post is aimed at existing project managers. There is a growing trend worldwide, where children are encouraged to take their parents in to school to talk about their jobs. I have never been asked to go in to my children’s school!

They have had a policeman in who no doubt talked about road safety and not talking to strangers, they have had a nurse in who talked about healthcare issues and how to look after yourself, and they have had a fireman in to explain about the dangers of fires and what to do if you are in such danger. These are all important and seemingly (to children) exciting jobs. But project management is neither apparently exciting nor does it have a uniform (something I note that the people who have gone in to school have in common).

How do we make some-one with authority, accountability and responsibility for managing a project to achieve specific objectives, sound exciting?

Should we perhaps design a uniform for project managers? We know we are exciting already. We can easily state that “doctors make people better”, that “policemen catch bad people”, but we can’t say: “project managers manage projects” because that doesn’t tell people anything. We all know what it means but my children don’t and my friends don’t know either.

The current situation of project managers

Project managers can be summarised as follows:

  • We are generally good at what we do
  • We are generally successful in our endeavours
  • We are getting better all the time
  • We do deliver “exciting things”
  • (We are mostly nice people I‟m sure)

So how can we get “out of that box” and be exciting to the world in general so that they can understand us and appreciate what we do?

Be proud and be happy

All in all we have a lot to be both proud and happy about. The role of a project manager is a great job, whether you intend on pursuing a project management career or whether you intend to move in to a business role within a project based business. Projects should never bore you, they are all different and each day will bring new challenges and interests. You will never stop learning those lessons and building those relationships.

Finally reach out with what you do

Consider doing some or all of the following in order to help yourself (and project management in general) out of the box:

  • Tell people you are a project manager. Don’t be shy; be brave and come clean about your job, that you should be loud and proud of.
  • Have that ’elevator’ speech ready when people ask you what you do. But don’t say “I’m a project manager, I manage projects”. I recently asked the question “How would you explain project management to an Alien from outer space” and one of my favourite answers came from Penny Pullman “Getting something new and exciting done with a group of people!”
  • Speak at non-Project Management events. People like what they hear about projects, project management and project managers.
  • Network with a broad group of people, again outside project management.
  • Start some LinkedIn discussions and get some great interaction with people from all over the world.
  • Twitter and Blog and Facebook and any and every social networking mechanism that works for you.
  • Offer your services outside of your work, you will find that many volunteer organisations are crying out for your projects skills – even if they don’t know what they are.
  • And finally why not scare your kids and go to that school or college day and talk about your exciting role of being a project manager. Make sure children know what project management is by the time that they leave school and that they had some exposure to projects being done.

“Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand” Chinese Proverb

Source: “Getting Project Management ‘Out of the Box’” by Peter Taylor, Author of ‘The Lazy Project Manager’.

About the author: Linky Van Der Merwe is a Project Management Consultant and an IT Project Manager with 15 years IT industry experience and 12 years Project Management experience. She consults with small-medium business owners and service professionals about project management processes and tools, best practices and successful delivery through projects. She can be reached at linky@virtualprojectconsulting.com


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  1. Keep up the good work, I like your writing.

  2. It was very interesting to read. I want to quote your post in my blog if I may?
    And your account on Twitter?

  3. You may quote this post, with a link back to the website.
    My Twitter handle is virtualpm.


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