page contents

Job descriptions for project and program managers all contain a hefty requirements section on the candidate’s ability to collect, codify, analyze and report information.  I don’t know about you, but I certainly spend a good deal of my day tending my metrics farm…the data and the schedules and the change reports and the risk analyses give me a picture of the state of my programs that helps me know when I can heave a sigh of relief, and when I need to course correct.  They are very, very important.

But, though it’s tempting to stop there, to rest easy in the belief that PMP certification and expertise with tools, schedules and change management analysis make the PM, I’d like to offer an alternate viewpoint.  At the end of the day, it’s not always about the metrics.

I slipped into Program Management through the side door.  My first degrees were in Performing Arts and Communications, but I eventually entered the business world, got my MBA, and segued into Marketing.  After many years as a Marketing Professional, I had an opportunity to lead a cross-functional team in a process change effort, and I loved it.   A colleague said, “There’s a name for this kind of team leadership, you know, it’s called Program Management.  Maybe you should check it out.”  So I did, and the rest is history.

As a result of what I sometimes call my checkered past, I come at things from a slightly different angle.   I’m not a PM because I love to organize detail and work with tools, I organize detail and work with tools because that frees me to influence, motivate, nurture, shape, counsel and lead my teams.   I even took a seven-year hiatus from corporate life to do leadership development, team development and process change consulting, but I missed the rough and tumble of the program team and the camaraderie of fellow travelers.  Now that I’m back in corporate life, I pay a lot of attention to the integration between my need to communicate, comprehend and coach and my passion for making things work.

As a result, I tend to believe that if we are to excel in our PM roles, we need to pay as much — or perhaps even more — attention to the human dynamics of our work as we do to the quantitative tools of our trade.