Project Manager Dragons I have met

It dawned on me today as I worked on getting a project back to a position where we could deliver on it; that this is it. I found myself gazing at the calendar on my Windows 10 work laptop as our WebEx call went on and our vendor vacillated between wanting to deliver and being a bit afraid of risk. I listen to these things and think still that there are two types of project manager out there.

Type 1. This project manager excels at no risk and no issue projects. The timelines are easily achievable and the work is sub-divided into decent segments and the milestones are all well defined and reachable. This is the non chaos project manager type. This person will deliver on your project as long as there is no change. The technical team is perhaps bored with this. There is nothing to excel at and nothing challenged or gained. It’s all status quo.

Type 2. This project manager (of which I count myself as one) wants challenge and perhaps wants risk and wants a project which will stretch the team. This leads to a test of delivery and confidence in the team. Risk and change are equally endorsed and perhaps even wanted and loved. It may add stress to meetings and the vendor may get uncomfortable at times but the delivery and execution is there because the technical team feels excited and thrilled because the work has challenge. It’s more fun to deliver and meetings are exciting events where innovative solutions are met for problems.

My larger cloud project has a few reasons why type 2 works better. We don’t know everything about how the project evolves and gets delivered. We cannot eliminate risk in this setting. We simply don’t know. So what do we do? Add weeks to the schedule and play it safe? No I say. I tell our vendor, a major cloud provider to be brave and confident. I tell them you can do it. They believe it I think.

Perhaps their project manager is afraid of the unknown and she kinda crosses over to Type 1 here and there. That’s okay. It’s my job as a program manager to gently force what my company leadership wants while ensuring we retain the pride of delivery and execution.

I don’t believe the pride of delivery and execution comes from the status quo folks. I think it takes challenge and risk and the unknown. We will deliver this on time and we know it. But we will meet the project dragon head on and that monster will breathe fire and smoke. Better to be a type 2 project than a type 1. Because as a type 2 team we expect it and are geared up for the challenge. If we were a type 1 team; we’d be shocked and go around hand wringing and crying and mumbling it was not in the scope.

Yes. Better to be a riotous and fun occurrence for my going away party. Let there be change and risk and challenge and we will meet it head on and it will be ours. Even if there is a project dragon out there waiting.

Author: Michael Perry

I've been blogging for over 20 years and now am living in Southeast Asia. The blog is about my slow vagabonding wherever I want to go. My home base is in Cambodia but I'm rarely there.