We mark our lives out in accomplishments and milestones. Graduation, birthdays, weddings, births, deaths. But when we look back on our lives, we hope we will have created something, been a part of a movement, and have left a lasting impression. This is why the word legacy comes to my mind whenever I think of a passionate project manager. Beyond the usual life milestones or the metaphor of life itself as a project, achieving project milestones is the everyday for a project manager.
Project team as family
In work, as in life, we do not always get to choose our family. Over the last decade, I have spent more time with my colleagues than anyone else in my life. I've worked with people I didn't like very much, and with people who didn't like me. And we had to get it done. Without them, there is no project. It is the process of building something and seeing the results that bring people together.
The original mission for my trip was "community stories". I wanted to wander the world meeting new people. It was the reaction from people at the big project management "family reunion" (formally known as the PMI Leadership Institute Meeting) in San Diego last September when I shot out the idea of visiting PMI chapters, and the positive reaction was pretty immediate.
The project management movement
My first day working at PMI-Montreal, I had to ask "what is project management?", and the answer took years to articulate in my mind.
A project can be defined as a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product or service.
No, I am not a slow learner.
It's just such a dry way of describing something that is at the heart of all social change. Even project manager seems deficient to me for describing someone who champions a project and brings people together. Project evangelist maybe?
After all, communication is key to a successful project manager. You can master all the apps, charts, and formulas, but if you can't talk to human beings, good luck leading them into battle (and yes, sometimes a project is a battle, against time, against money, even against other people).
So maybe I've been drinking the PMI koolaid (hell, I've been bathing in it), but being surrounded by passionate people who take on enormous tasks of bringing ideas to reality, it's hard not to jump on board. It's at the heart of the Startup movement, defining the job market for an entire generation, and everyone can use project management tools (just ask me about my risk assessment matrix for this trip).
The beauty of a career in project management is that it is never boring. Every project is different, challenging and a constant source of opportunities for personal and professional growth. The next day is never the same as the last. The same could be said of travelling.