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Creative Project Management

This week I was part of a development program for high potential people in a large European company. They had worked together for about a year on a program with a mix of training and actual project work. And now it was time for a review of the result with sponsors and other key stakeholders. A review of both the training aspect and the project results. It was one of those occasions where normally you listen to a nice presentation with a bunch of obvious statements designed to showcase the participants, the trainers and the program design people. Where you listen for a couple of hours, slightly bored at best, and then walk away remembering nothing of the event.

But this event was different. Instead of boring the audience, they kept us involved and anticipating the next portion of the presentation with curiosity and excitement. So what did they do? They ran the presentation like an award show. So they added audience involvement (applause), anticipation (who would win the next category) and humor (it was often quite obvious who would win the next category). It was light hearted and done without taking themselves too seriously.

I often hear that project management is boring and dry. It is the doing part that is fun. Sometimes I think we make it boring because we assume that it should be. This group looked outside of the box for a more interesting approach. They realized that although content is important, the way we deliver it is sometimes even more important. Sales and marketing people know this of course. But we delivery people sometimes overlook it.

I learned a lot from this group. I learned that a team is most productive when they work hard and have fun at the same time. That the best solutions are created when there is an atmosphere of acceptance and every voice is heard. That even ideas that we may reject when we first hear them deserves a second chance, and that our gut feel is not always right. And I was reminded that a brilliant presentation is only valuable if you keep the audience awake and engaged.

So spend some extra time adding in the fun stuff in your next stakeholder event. Keep them interested, awake, and, if possible, laughing.

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