This is something that’s been bugging me for a while: you are no better than any other PM because of your title, process, or culture.
A framework doesn’t equal preparation
I don’t care if your title is project manager, digital project manager, integrated producer, or a half dozen other similar titles. At the core, all of us are being tasked with the same thing—running a project. We have to get over this bullshit where people think that their philosophy, process, methodology or agency culture somehow makes them better prepared than someone else when it comes to managing projects.
I’m tired of it. If you think you are better than someone else because you run Agile or you’re a scrum master or a project manager, not a producer nor a nineteenth level black belted ninja six sigma whatever—you’re not. These are just different frameworks. They have nothing to do with your real abilities.
Move the hell on.
That boat has sailed.
Elvis has left the room.
No framework is perfect when you are managing creativity.
The bigger world outside the windshield
When I was twenty years old, I was on a long drive to a concert with my younger brother. Half-way through the two hour car ride he turns to me and says sarcastically, “Dude, is this how you drive?” I looked at him like what the fuck? You’re three years younger then me and just started driving, what, six months ago? I thought I was driving perfectly farking fine.
He said, “Dude, you need to learn to drive defensively.”
His point was rather simple. I was more concerned about what was going on inside the car—the music, my speed, the air-conditioner—than what was around me. He noticed shit that I didn’t. Not only did I blow through two unmarked car speed traps, I didn’t notice when the cop car pulled up behind me. I saw him when he came around me. I also didn’t notice the eighteen wheelers that had boxed me earlier while driving through a construction zone, nor the 73-year-old grandma in my blind spot casually drifting outside her own lane.
With great humility, my younger brother taught me something that I haven’t forgotten: When we concentrate on our own little bubble, we forget the stuff outside of our immediate view. We lose out on the bigger picture and are blind to what can affect us, come at us, or kill us from any angle.
Keep your eyes on the road
Even if we all get out alive this time, there’s no guarantee that we will apply that experiential knowledge the next time we have to crawl out of the wreckage. Next time, it’ll be different projects, different passengers, and different paths. Creative projects are not repeatable, and human behaviour is not necessarily predictable. Your next project is waiting to maul you with new, unexpected challenges. Will you be ready?
We have to think larger than titles and technical skills. We have to watch out for who’s in the car with us and what’s going on outside the metal box we’re driving, not just what’s in front of the windshield.