Project Management Articles

Everyone Has Project Management Skills .... Well Almost Everyone

by Di Ellis

Project management is simply managing

  • what has to be done;
  • when it needs to be done by;
  • within certain cost constraints.

Did you know that a lot of what we do in our everyday lives is very similar to project management?

Can you answer YES to any of these questions:

  • have you arranged a holiday?
  • have you hosted a dinner party?
  • have you built or purchased a house or done renovations to your home?
  • have you organised a surprise party for someone?
  • have you arranged a picnic with a group of friends

All of the tasks listed above require you to use project management skills. You need to work out what you want to achieve, put together a plan of how you're going to achieve it, work out whose help you need to pull it off, and you set a budget.

For a holiday - you might delegate a lot of this work to your travel agent, and similarly to your Builder for building a house. But for things like organising a surprise party, you need to:

  • work out who's invited
  • select a time and location
  • send out the invitations
  • organise catering (or bring a plate)
  • arrange music
  • organise where everyone will park to keep the party a surprise
  • work out a cover story for the guest of honour

If you think that doesn't take project management skills - think again!

And do you know what skill I think is the most critical? Common sense (or pragmatism).

If I had a dollar for every Project Manager who "talks the talk" at the start of a project, I'd be a very rich woman. And if I had a dollar for every Project Manager who successfully delivers what they set out to (who "walks the walk"), I'd be a very poor woman. And why is that? Because most people get lazy and take their eye off the ball.

It's easy to start a project, create a nice looking Project Management Plan, and set up lots of important meetings. But when things start to go wrong, many people go to pieces, overreact, or focus on the really non important stuff (like whether their status report makes them look bad).

Common sense, especially when it comes to being able to prioritise effectively, and knowing when to compromise, is a key skill for a project manager. I’d take this over a university degree any day!

Give me someone who can sort the wheat from the chaff; who knows not to sweat the small stuff; who knows when they can afford to compromise and when not to, rather than standing their ground just for the sake of it.

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About the Author

Di Ellis is the owner of this site, and author of Manage That Project, a fantastically simple, easy to understand guide to project management.

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