So why do you manage projects, anyway? Derry Simmel cuts to the chase in his article, Cargo Cult Project Management.

I love articles like this: articles that remind us to focus, not on the trappings of project management, but on the desired outcome. As with many essential truths, this applies to more than business. Before there were hundreds of models and brands of cars, there was the desire to quickly and safely get oneself and one’s stuff from Point A to Point B. Before there was House Beautiful, there was the desire to make a shelter both safe and comfortable. Before there was project management, there was a great idea that was too big or too long to be completed alone, in a single burst of energy.

In Derry’s example, a group of otherwise intelligent human beings were missing the context of the mysterious cargo that had been briefly showered upon them, seemingly from nowhere. They were missing the culture that had evolved a world view, as well as systems and values, for creating and distributing those cargoes, just as I lack the world view, as well as the systems and values, to become a Pacific Islander.

Derry reminds us, first of all, to wait, and assess a project before acting. I would add that this would be a good time to privately interpret the purpose of a project, as well as to determine how you personally plan to contribute to its success. Then, jettison wasteful “Project Management-ese”, whether it’s processes, lingo, superfluous meetings, etc.

Once you do that, you can start building the unique processes required by that unique project, and, as he reminds us, build on what is working.

Surprise! Not only do you win a more successful project management experience, you and more team are now free to discover and initiate much more creative solutions, and (shhh…) have much more fun doing it.

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