As a human being, I would like to know several things in life.
First, I need to know and understand everything around me.
Second, I need to know the relationships between everything. I need to know the linear cause and effect relationship, the reaction that results from my taking an action or introducing an initiative. The relationship between and among all variables.
Third, I need to know the nonlinear relationships as well. If I take an action, what might be the unintended consequence of this action? I know this happens because I observe it in the world today.
Fourth, I need to know how these relationships change with time. What are the “dynamics” of the process?
And then I stop and realize that none of this can happen as I have described it.
First, new knowledge is being created every day so that what I know today is very limited with regard to what is known in the universe tomorrow.
Second, the cause and effect relationships in linear thinking are compounded by the complexity of the systems I am trying to understand.
The third and fourth follow as have the first and second, the nonlinear relationships and the dynamics of processes and variables make it impossible for this scenario to be played out. Other individuals are taking actions based on their own understanding of the variables that introduce new wrinkles….
But as a project manager, isn’t this what you are trying to do every day?
You want to know everything about your project….who is involved, how the variables interact, how an action creates a reaction from the other participants, what can be expected to happen because of nonlinearity, how does this change over time?
The answer is simple.
First, observe keenly what is happening in your world. Question those things you don’t understand.
Second, learn as you go and never stop learning.
Third, recognize and document the processes that make up your business. Recognize Best Practices as they arise and promote them to your colleagues. Listen as project teams describe what works and what doesn’t work. Lessons learned from successes are just as important as those from failures.
There is a “model” emerging here…
Learn from your successes as well as from your failures.
Create the world you want to live and work in
Of course, this is a model of how we conduct our lives every day.
What I have described here deviates from what happens every day, however. Emotion and Habit dictate so much of what we experience. Emotion drives economics. We allow habit to invade our daily processes if we are not cognizant.
Project management is no different from navigating the world as we observe it every day. Learn by osmosis, trying new and different approaches, and listening intently to everything that moves around you.