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Monday, December 22, 2008

Project Management Success - Where's the Evidence?!

You may have heard the old saying, "Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan". Ironic and appropriate that the source of this piece of wisdom is unknown.

The best Project Managers are the unsung heroes of their agencies. I'm not knocking creatives or account management, but you know as well as I who gets the awards and the accolades, and if something is late or wrong, where the attention goes.

Precious few within an agency truly understand Project Management's value. Without PM's on-time/on-budget/on-spec/high-quality is a long-shot. One of my favorite illustrations of this point is from the film, Wag the Dog. Dustin Hoffman, playing Stanley Motts, the self-absorbed producer (feature film's version of a Project Manager) is hilarious. Check out this clip from Wag the Dog on YouTube (starts about 55 seconds in)

Motts again on the same topic:

MOTTS: It's all, you know ... thinking ahead. Thinking Ahead. That's what producing is. (PAUSE) It's like being a plumber.

BREAN: Mmm...

MOTTS: You do your job right, nobody should notice.

I'm not in love with the plumber association. As long as we don't get known for "PM's crack", I suppose I can live with it.

Issue detection and avoidance, arguably Project Managers' greatest contributions, don't leave much physical evidence. Right, Stanely? "You do your job right, nobody should notice." I'm not suggesting Project Managers run around the agency shouting, "Look at me.". However, it's in your and your teams' best interests to "market" yourselves internally and externally whenever possible. One thing I have my team leaders do is submit a Project Management status report. This is generally a good business practice that gives quick reference for accomplishments and aides in the above mentioned risk detection/avoidance. I also ask my leads to send accolades they and their staff receive, which I pass up the food chain whenever I get the chance.

This was one recent note of appreciation from a particularly tuned-in Group Account Director:

"Thank you both for all of your time and attention on the XYZ scope. We know it always takes more back-and-forth than anyone expects but please know that none of your tireless efforts are lost on us." bless her heart.

This from an Executive Creative Director, while both his feet were firmly on the ground:

"I just wanted to drop you both a note to let you know how impressed I am with XXXX. She has performed exceptionally well on a very complex project, YYYYY. She has had to coordinate and schedule 3 separate offices and has done it with aplomb. Everyone has been really impressed with her performance and friendly, yet, professional demeanor. Thanks for putting her on this project, she's been a real asset to the team."

Project Management doesn't always get the credit it deserves, but it deserves far more credit than it gets. Keep it up. Try to get some attention. You deserve it!

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