A Global Thought Process

It can be a project manager’s worst nightmare. You walk into a meeting confident that your review of the project that you just accepted was adequate. You really feel that you have a good handle on what your sponsor needs. It’s a challenging localized project with several risks to the critical path but hey, you’re an expert so in the words of Olivia Pope… It’s handled. And then the meeting begins.

You leave feeling like the first bus that hit you wasn’t enough and that the 2nd and 3rd buses were for more dramatic effect. The project you committed to is now a global program with multiple projects sprinkled across the enterprise and the look on your face is #hashtagworthy. How did this happen and more importantly, how will you manage it all? You can start with thinking through everything with a global thought process.

A global thought process for a project manager doesn’t start when you are suddenly faced with a global effort to manage. It begins way, way back at the beginning of our professional careers. It begins in the ways in which we go about creating problems and solving solutions in our everyday lives, at home, at the grocery, at the parent-teacher conferences. It’s in the way we choose to see the world as it is, realistically, instead of the way in which we would like it to be, hopefully.

Having a global thought process means thinking across international lines and across your own perceived limits. It means that thinking outside of the box is not enough and realizing that there never was a box is your true starting point. It means never stop asking why and why not. Having a global thought process means thinking through an issue holistically and considering the global impact of paths that could be taken and those that shouldn’t be taken. PM’s that have experienced managing national and global projects/programs have or will find that not considering the global impacts of our decisions can be devastating.

The world today is as small as the screen on your smartphone. The amount of information that can be acquired simply by touching a screen is astounding. We can connect with perspectives and points of view in foreign lands by pressing a button. Our capabilities as project managers have expanded 100 fold. We are traditionally “asked” to head up projects that are solution driven and not problem driven. Why do we do this is the obvious question but more important is the follow up why’s that are asked once we get the first answer which is almost always “because that’s how we’ve always done it”. This is no longer an acceptable white flag to wave in a world of competing global perspectives. We have to take the lead and manage the culture shift towards creating problems and solving solutions. No one else is better poised or trained to do this than your friendly neighborhood project professional. Yes, that’s you. So I encourage you to begin or continue to think through issues holistically. Consider the global impact of paths that could be taken and those that shouldn’t be taken. Take the lead in shifting your project teams towards thinking globally on impacts and interdependencies. Let’s solve the right problems with the right solutions and do it all the right way.

-SFJ

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