I am a believer in the power of project management.
As a professional project manager for nearly twenty years, I have witnessed project success drive business results. I have also proven that project management can change lives and help achieve personal transformation. Now I am sharing some practical tips and techniques that you can use to help achieve your own personal goals, live your best life and become a PM Believer.
Science vs. Art
Project management is both a science and an art. Beyond the formal tools and processes, there are other habits and techniques that project managers use to achieve success. Today’s post explores one of these aspects of the art of project management.
What’s Your Problem?
If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.Albert Einstein
Project managers are problem solvers. In any project, there is always something broken or a new challenge that requires a solution. This is one of the most exciting things about project management. But problem-solving isn’t as straightforward a process as it sounds.
Have you ever been so focused on the solution to a problem that you forgot what the actual problem is that you are solving?
I participate in many conversations to brainstorm solutions to project problems. Groups of smart people get into the same room (or Zoom) and work through possible solutions, pros and cons, implementation plans and any associated risks. Sometimes, the solution that results from these exercises doesn’t solve the problem.
While problem-solving is important, it can’t happen by focusing on the solution alone. Without a thorough understanding of what the problem is, and continual refocusing on that problem through solution brainstorming, your chances of solving it are grim. You will likely find yourself back in that same room with those same people trying to solve that same problem again in the near future.
Good project managers repeatedly remind people that “the problem we are trying to solve is x.” This helps keep the solutions focused on the actual problem.
This same behavior pays dividends in your personal projects too.
When pursuing your goals, you are going to encounter obstacles and other puzzles that you are going to have to solve. Jumping right to defining the solution skips an important step and is the recipe for disaster. For best results, spend as much time defining the problem as you do defining the solution.
When a problem arises, pause to reflect on what that problem is before starting to define the solution. Leverage the “Five Whys” approach (see Project: We Have A Problem) to dig deep and ensure that you have identified the root cause. Only then can you start working on solutions and be sure that you are solving the right problem.
Are you ready to be a PM Believer?
Problem-solving is a critical skill for project managers because you are going to face problems. When you reach that inevitable roadblock, it is time to tap into those problem-solving skills. Just remember that there are two parts to the word “problem-solving” and don’t be too hasty to get to the “solving.” Spend some time asking yourself “what’s your problem” so you know your efforts are properly focused.
How have you applied project management for your personal success? Tell me about it at OperationMelt.com and make sure to join my email list to have updates delivered to your inbox weekly.
Make sure to help your friends achieve their goals by sharing this post on your social network and by following me on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
Want to know more about how I changed my life with project management? Pick up your copy of my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds In Under a Year.
About Operation Melt
Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.