Looking beyond logic and planning in project management: Skill 2 – Creativity
At first the link between creativity and project management does not seem very clear. Most people believe project managers are organised, disciplined people that ensure other people are on task and manage countless meetings. Rarely do they associate creativity with project managers; that descriptor is usually reserved for architects, marketing managers and artists. But when problems or unforeseen opportunities arise, project managers have to be creative in overcoming or taking advantage of these problems or opportunities.
What isn’t immediately clear to the majority of stakeholders in a project is that project managers are constantly challenged with a new issue, change, shift, surprise, disagreement or shifting priority. Stakeholders frequently ignore agreed protocol and procedures, and most of the people that a project manager is in contact with are challenging them in one way or another. Finding ways to communicate across quite varied teams of people in a clear and concise manner requires a great deal of creativity, especially when the project runs into bumps along the way.
Creativity is in fact enormously important throughout a business as solid growth and sustainable revenue depend on new ideas. Organisations should encourage and develop innovation initiatives that promote and foster creative thinking business-wide. It is vital for managers and leaders to cultivate a workforce of creative thinkers that are constantly generating new ideas every day. Within this environment of continuous idea creation will be many unique and possibly profitable solutions. And creative thinking and innovation are part of a project manager’s job as well.
Helping others to be creative and allowing for a creative environment requires some lateral thinking in itself. Especially when managing a project is traditionally based on logic and planning. Project managers should be encouraged to look beyond logic and planning to see if there are other superior solutions.
Project managers should always ask ‘what if’, schedule time out to think freely and seek feedback from external eyes that are not connected to the project. By doing this project managers can gain an insight from a different perspective that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. This can potentially deliver alternate solutions or allow for an outside the box idea to be generated. And this is what it is really about, challenging the status quo and looking for a better way of doing things; after all some of the world’s greatest discoveries came from ideas that seemed ridiculous at the time.