Project managers and authors have the same goal in mind –
giving their clients/readers what they desire. To do this, PMs and authors need
to give the key players in the project/story room to expand and explore.
The author’s job is to give the characters enough leeway to
tell the story without allowing them to hijack it, taking it down a different
path, turning a short story into an epic novel.
The project manager’s job is to allow their team of creatives
to work unhindered, while ensuring they don’t deviate too far from the project
plan or turn a simple project into a massive enterprise.
It can be a tough balancing act.
Creative teams shouldn’t be bogged down by the intricacies of
managing a project. Creative individuals need room to think, to process, to
A project manager’s job is to allow this to happen. To
sometimes work in the background, but always remain vigilant to what is
happening with the project, stepping in when problems arise or when the team
needs a little boost.
While team members can appreciate the job the project manager
is doing, they don’t need to be aware of every step the project manager makes
to ensure the project remains on track.
Just like with a story, the reader knows it was written by the
author, but if the author does the job well, the reader won’t be reminded
constantly that the author is there. The story becomes about the characters. An
author must know when to lead the characters along the story’s predetermined
path and when to let them choose a different course. Allowing the latter can
result in a richer, less predictable outcome.
The same goes for a project manager. A PM needs to know when
to lead the way and when to step back and observe the project from the
sidelines. Allowing team members to deviate from predetermined objectives can
lead to more imaginative and innovative deliverables.
Giving the characters/creatives enough room to imagine and
explore, allowing them to tell the
story, is always the best route.
Don’t waste your time listening to naysayers. If anyone tells you you’re not good enough to do or to be something, especially when you haven’t been given the opportunity to try, don’t believe them. You should be the one to decide if you’re good at a task, an activity, or a profession. If you listen to those who say you can’t or say you shouldn’t, you may be faced with regrets later.
We all have
enough of our own self-doubts without listening to the doubts of others. And
that’s all it is — other people voicing their own doubts and fears. Most of the
time, it has nothing to do with us.
My Naysayer Story
It took place in a 4th grade art class. I was nine years old.
working on a project that would teach us how to see and understand the correct
placement of facial features. We were instructed to find a picture of a human
face in a magazine and cut it in half the long way (one eye, half nose, half
mouth). We then taped the photo onto a larger piece of paper, leaving enough
room to draw the missing half of the face. Hopefully, by the time we were done the
drawn portion would resemble the piece that had been cut away.
day, I had shied away from drawing faces. I loved drawing mountains, flowers,
cacti, but avoided drawing eyes and noses.
was a project for a grade and I gave it my best shot. Surprisingly, I liked
what I had done. It wasn’t perfect and based on what some of my classmates had
created, I knew I had a lot to learn.
problem! It was my first try.
the teacher walking around the room helping each student, showing them how to
improve their artwork. I waited patiently for it to be my turn to receive some
I knew the
nose wasn’t quite right. The eye wasn’t right either. And the hair — we won’t
even talk about the hair. But I was really proud of what I had done and was
looking forward to making it better.
was my turn. The teacher was standing behind me and I looked up at her, excited
and anxious, waiting for her to give me a pointer or two. Instead, she shook
her head and said, “You’ll never be an artist,” and walked away.
crushed. I was nine years old and I was crushed.
day, I gave up drawing.
told my parents what the teacher had said to me. I never told anyone. I was too
Off to College
Years later when I went off to college, I enrolled in an engineering program. Since I loved math, it seemed like a logical choice. I was doing pretty well until I discovered a freehand drawing course was a requirement.
I spent the
next few days trying to decide what to do. The only way to avoid taking the
class was to change my major. That seemed a bit extreme. It was just one class.
Besides, a little humiliation wasn’t going to kill me.
just feel that way.
session of freehand drawing brought equal amounts of elation and frustration.
Elation arrived when the instructor told us she believed she could teach anyone to draw. The only requirement was a desire to learn.
I had the
desire but I also had my doubts. Hadn’t I already been told I would never be an
came when we were tasked with drawing four items — a chair, a table, a
computer, and the face of one of our classmates.
No! Not a
the assignment but wasn’t impressed with the results. Each one looked like it
had been drawn by a child.
nine-year-old to be exact, since that’s how old I was when I gave up drawing.
The good news is, I ended up loving the class. I enjoyed how the instructor taught us how to ‘see’ in a different way. Instead of simply seeing a building, I was noticing the lines, contours, and negative space; drawing each element until, like magic, the building appeared. It was amazing! I spent hours drawing everyday objects that were now anything but ordinary. For me, it was better than meditating.
The End of Class
The final day of class, we were tasked with drawing the same four items we had completed on day one. The instructor had kept the original illustrations with the intent of mailing them to us, along with the drawings from the final night so we could compare them and see for ourselves how we had grown as artists.
A couple of weeks later, I received a large manila envelope in the mail.
I opened it
carefully, not sure I wanted to see them, afraid I hadn’t learned as much as I
had hoped. In that oversized envelope was proof, one way or the other.
comparing the two sets of drawings, I was stunned. I couldn’t believe the
difference. I couldn’t believe how my skills had advanced in such a short
period of time.
most surprising part — I dropped out of the engineering program.
successfully completing the freehand drawing course, I changed my major to
Visual Communications. I took classes in Typography, Illustration,
Photostyling, and Graphic Design. I hung out with artists and graduated with a
And yet, I could still hear that 4th grade art teacher telling me I would never be an artist.
After several years as a Graphic Designer, I found myself in the role of single parent. In order to make more money, I went back to school and earned a degree in Technical Management. A project management certification followed soon after.
regret making this decision, but I do regret abandoning my artistic pursuits. I
should have found time to draw, at least as a hobby, but I was still hearing
that voice saying I didn’t possess the talent.
son is in college – taking art classes. I told him a long time ago not to
listen to anyone who says he’s not an artist. He is very talented, and to the
best of my knowledge, no one has ever said he isn’t.
A few days
ago, we made a trip to the art supply store, one of our favorite outings. While
surrounded by pencils, markers, pastels, and every type of drawing paper
imaginable, I was inspired to give drawing another try.
I’m not going to listen to the voice that says I can’t do it. I have wasted too
many years listening to, and worrying about, the opinions of others.