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Really, Should You Be a Project Manager?

How do you know if you are the type of person who should be a project manager? Are you a reactive, fly-by-night, last minute, kind of disorganized person? Or do you obsess with upcoming deadlines, keep a to-do list, get your stuff done ahead of time kind of person? Do you even know?

I have always considered myself as a somewhat disorganized, last minute approach, somewhat lazy kind of person. But I have been told that I am not, so maybe that just shows how bad we are at judging ourselves. And when I look at the facts, they seem to disprove my own opinion. Here I am, three weeks before this blog is due, sitting at 10 pm in the evening trying to get a head start. Why? Because I am going on a two-week vacation and I don’t want to think about work then.

Does that make me a good project manager? Not sure. There are a lot of other factors involved, but I think it shows that I am a risk averse PM. And while that does not guarantee success, I do think that it helps. I tend to review my main commitments on a regular basis and see if there is something that will cause me to miss them. If I feel I have plenty of time, I will tend to procrastinate and do nothing (other than maybe play guitar and read crime novels). So, with my own schedules I tend to use the Finish-Finish approach. What does that mean? That I start things as late as possible while still being fairly sure I can complete them. And I do think that is a good approach?

If you start things too early you run the risk of things changing on you. Resources, customer, scope, or a number of other things. If you start too late, you tend to end late and miss out on that gigantic bonus (or set of movie tickets depending on who you work for).

So I like to plan for things, but also to keep a reactive mindset and change the plans as the circumstances warrant. A finish-to-finish plan depends on that. If you want to start activities as late as possible you must be quick to react to changes in the environment. And adjust. So… with three weeks to go I would normally watch TV and have a beer now. But with a looming vacation in Sweden and not wanting to spend any time thinking about project management then, I adjust my plan and finish it early.

Of course… I could have just blown off the whole thing. I don’t think there is a large group of readers who would have become despondent. But my ego does not allow that. I want to be in print. And ego is another important trait of a good PM.

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