I used to go on a lot about “I manage projects because I love them.” It’s still true.

Work Breakdown Structures and Gantt Charts are valuable, powerful tools, but it all pales before the beauty of the project itself: Its potential outcome, and the possibility that it will become more than what we envisioned at the start (and I mean more in a very delightful, very exciting way).

By loving a project, by feeling passion about a project, the tools and techniques are reduced to their proper place and proportions, as simply tools and techniques. They become malleable, so that they can more easily be adapted to the project’s purposes. They become disposable, because it is much more quickly clear when a tool or technique is not contributing to a project’s success.

I’d like to suggest that if you can’t find passion in your heart (or gut) for your current project, you might want to start looking for it. No need to go nuts, but even just a little vision, a little wonder, can transform a project from acceptable to spectacular.

Here’s a suspicious sounding idea: If at all possible, weave your personal dreams with the desired outcomes of your project. Sounds selfish, doesn’t it. I certainly wouldn’t recommend admitting it to anyone at work, either. But if you can weave genuine personal meaning into your work, you will reap creativity, resourcefulness, vitality and yes, even efficiency.

How to remain balanced? How to not turn into a PM Napoleon? Remember that human relationships are the other part of what makes it fun. As human beings, we’ve accomplished amazing things because most of us enjoy doing things together (at least some of the time). Get people on board, honor their efforts, build trust, and listen.

 

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