So, welcome issue nr. 1! This is an ironic newsletter – we like having fun.
Why a newsletter on misfits? The idea came to us in Lugano on a Sunday afternoon: we were thinking about a seminar we had attended the week before in another country, and we were laughing at the “visible project management” (something involving plenty of multi-colored post-its, some Japanese words and a lot of boards – but no seats, not even stools) which had even been called a methodology.
Because of a strange coincidence, the evening before we had been writing an introduction to project management; to our own surprise, part of that introduction had to be dedicated to de-mithing some “conventional wisdom” elements.
It is really a strange world that in which one has to de-mith something to explain what Project Management is. At any rate, this is how things are and probably one of the main reasons why project management is often unknown or, worse, misunderstood.
You see, the problem here is that one does not need to be a Qualified Project Manager to be a project manager: a doctor must be qualified; so must an engineer, an accountant, a teacher and so on.
What’s better than saying you are a project manager and maybe even propose your own “solution”? You could even end up making some money, especially in these times of crisis. The only problem is you are not a qualified Project Manager.
You know, there is nothing unethical in not being a qualified Project Manager; after all, some good project managers are not qualified. But is it ok to go around and pontificate?
And mind, sometimes there are even some qualified project managers who have some “wonderful” ideas.
We were thinking about this and laughing at modern fads, when we realized another reason why project management is misunderstood is “misfits of project management”.
So, this is where, how and why this newsletter was born. Welcome to “Misfits of project management”!
The visible project management
It was a windy and rainy afternoon.
After the first speaker, each of these “visible” guys spoke about the “visible project management”. After those pieces of wisdom there were many questions, so the matter was quite clear.
What follows are our impressions: maybe we were mistaken, not attentive enough, and so on; but then maybe not, who knows?
So, “visible project management” involves a team meeting: the project manager is there only to hear what the team has to say on the project; every team member knows what is to be done, so he/she says what he/she is going to do and writes it down on a post-it which is then placed on boards (there are many types of boards) with some Japanese name of sorts.
There is at least a team-meeting per week just for the sake of it (team-working) and there are specific team-meetings during which “concerns” are expressed and/or the team performs some re-planning – yes, the team, not the project manager or the team-leader. “Solved” concerns (i.e., post-its) are put inside another board area besides post-its (of another colour, obviously) with the solution.
Everyone has to be present, it does not matter how far away he/she works or how big the team is; personal presence makes team-working.
The meeting room has no seats, because team-members have to get used to 30-minute meetings; the meeting room holds all the post-it boards, too, so after a while the boards start invading the corridor.
The meeting room (and corridor) is always open to everyone. Excellent, you have guessed right! That is the reason why this thing is the “visible project management”. Stop laughing, please, these are matters of deep concern! Ahahah!
But all this philosophy goes beyond: firms must innovate, so workers must take their time to think.
So, sometimes people are to cease all work, maybe for one week (that, too, has a Japanese name), and think about innovation. At least, that is what we understood.
What about big and/or geographically dispersed teams?
No video or call conferences: it takes just a pair of days to catch a flight and….
Was there an answer on big teams which made “sense”?
Who is going to check and control the team?
Why, the team itself! If someone is not volunteering to do enough work (at least according to the others), they will be reprimanded in public by their own colleagues. That was tried by a political ideology, it seems to us, and it was a total failure.
So, are we in the area of political philosophy or what?
Are responsibilities to be officially recorded, or is a post-it in the no-seat room or in the corridor all?
What are you thinking of? Responsibility? Official records? Are you a stone-age and brutal savage (as usual those were not the words which were spoken, but this is an ironic newsletter, isn’t it)? We live in a new era, certain means are relicts of the past.
The team re-plans. How does it interact with the management which is going to pay?
Why, “visible project management” does not exclude other methodologies!
At this point, some considerations.
Project Management = to manage projects. What is managed in “visible project management”? The buying of tons of multi-coloured post-its?
Methodology = there is a method. Where is the methodology here? In putting tons of post-its everywhere and in “not excluding” other methodologies for all the rest?
According to us, the “visible project management” is a philosophy; ok, a visible philosophy and maybe a messy philosophy (post-its all around), but a philosophy all the same.
And the project manager? He/she is there to hear the team-members who know, by definition, what has to be done (even by other team-members?)
So, if John is contributing 10, Helen is obliged to contribute at least 5 or more, otherwise her colleagues will scourge her for not doing enough; what if Helen’s expertise is not necessary at all in that project? So, Helen will put 10 post-its on the board, the ambitious Henry at least 12; besides, Henry will criticize John and Mary, Joan …… You see, the no-seat room is a great idea: they are not going to use seats against each other …… but there are plenty of boards.
Ok, guys, that is enough for this month … at least, we can’t take any more of this without laughing too much – we take care of our own health.
“Misfits of project management” is free and can be freely forwarded: some healthy fun is necessary in these modern times.
Being an ironic newsletter, it reflects only ideas. “Answers” or assertions that are not between inverted commas [‘….’] are not to be considered as “true” answers or assertions: that is only a way to express ironically what is perceived.
We make use of another set of inverted commas [“….”]: those are no quotations at all, just a literary device of ours to make concepts clearer.