Can Project Management be as Simple as List-Making?

Can Project Management be as Simple as List-Making?

I recently sat down with a CIO who was not pleased with a project manager’s performance at a project status meeting because they lacked some information the CIO considered essential.  He told me “I was always a list-maker.

Think about that list-maker statement…

  • List of risks ~ “Risk Register
  • List of tasks ~ “Work Breakdown Structure
  • List of resources and responsibilities ~ “Responsibility Assignment Matrix”
  • List of task successors and predecessors ~ “Schedule
  • List of Stakeholders ~ “Stakeholder Analysis Matrix

Creating these lists is the mechanical or science part of project management.  I don’t want to tarnish your project management certification, but the science part of project management is not that complicated.  The art part is not complicated either, but it is art… and passing a test, any test doesn’t make you an artist.

My goal when I teach project management is to pass on the skills and tips of the artists.  

Analyzing and taking action on these lists is art.  An artist would…

  • Look for and understand outliers in each list from multiple aspects and viewpoints
  • Put the lists in priority order from multiple perspectives
  • Create lists within lists…
  • Identify and/or create natural groupings and sub divisions
  • Understand when different levels of fidelity and detail are required
  • Recognize how the lists relate to each other and the resulting interactions
  • Make sure anyone who supports the project has their own lists and gracefully question them to see the proper analysis has been done

The role of  any leader is to assure project managers have complete lists that are being analyzed properly.  If you don’t have enough information to put your leaders in a position where they understand the situation and can help you… your performance as project manager is most likely in need of improvement.

That was the source of the CIO’s frustration with the project manager. He could not help him because he had not brought the essential information that any good list-maker would have.

Posted by Dr. James Brown in Leadership Training, Project Management Training, Team Building and tagged , .


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