Friday, October 25, 2013

What makes a successful Project Manager?

I was recently asked by a recruiter (who “cold called” me for a job I didn't deem I was qualified to fulfill) to describe the attributes of a successful project manager.  I think my no holds barred replies shocked him a bit.  I said uncensored (make sure there are no children present):

  •  To know what the fuck you’re talking about (I don’t know why I dropped the F-Bomb to a stranger, but I did …): Basically, don’t say “I know” if you don’t.  I have no problem saying I don’t know something and asking for help from someone with more wisdom in the matter than me.
  •  To ignore process when it’s in the way*** : For example, if you have the bandwidth (time), and somebody needs your help – help them. Don’t make them raise tickets and bother 3 other people in the organization and waste their time to solve a problem.  Especially if it’s a customer.
    ***This can even work in more serious changes like production rollouts, but you really have to know what you’re doing.  You're either a hero or fired.  Not for the squeamish.
  •  To garner social capital with your teammates and customers on a regular basis … ie, get shitted (drunk) with them once in a while and have some fun.  If you don’t drink, that’s fine, just don’t be a bore.  Nobody wants to help people who aren't fun, and they will do so only by “force” or necessity. 

That’s it.  All the certificates in the world mean nothing (Yes, I’m Prince2 certified, but I was forced to do it!).  I knew many PMs with certificates covering their walls, but they were notoriously unsuccessful because nobody wanted to help them (see point #3 above), they moved way too slow (see point #2 above), and they tended to escalate way too much (instead of trying to find the solution themselves in a diplomatic manner …. point #1 kinda applies).

There is nothing magical otherwise.

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