I have a secret. Many people could have guessed that I have a background in technology because I am a Project Manager at West Monroe Partners and I do. However, many do not know that I double majored in Art when I earned my bachelor’s degree. Pursuing studies in art has provided me with some unique tools that I think are helpful to project management and I’d like to share those with you.
The first lesson I faced in school was not how to paint, how to draw, who Monet was, or why that mattered. It was how to receive (and give) criticism. It is true that art is subjective, but there are constructive and not so constructive ways to communicate what we think about what we see/hear/taste/smell/feel. Our senses perceive what is extrinsic and factual.
We cannot change the fact that Edvard Munch painted The Scream with the sky red, but we can comment how that makes us feel uncomfortable and maybe we would like it less red because there is too much stress in our lives right now. Perhaps, it should be more red because, as Edvard may have saw it, people’s lives were ending! Similarly, we cannot change the fact that the Internet Service Provider cannot deliver a new circuit in less than six weeks, but a good project manager will lay out the facts to show how we’re still going to move forward or change to plan b.
We cannot change the facts (those extrinsic qualities), but we can influence how people feel about those facts. A good project manager will be constructive and respectful and that will in turn steer the project to a place where people feel good about what they have done. That lesson from school helped me recognize the constructive part of people’s feedback and to strive to provide a perspective that is positive and helpful.
Look forward to additional posts in the near future.