Project Management - Theatre - The Ultimate in Project Management

Theatre - The Ultimate in Project Management

You know, theatre is the ultimate in project management.

A bunch of disparate people come together for a common purpose: to get the show-up and running.

Each person has their area of expertise (actors, playwright, costumers, set designers, etc)

There's a director and a producer who hold the 'vision' of the entire enterprise, which has a beginning, middle and end.

And there are customers (theatre-goers) who make the whole project worthwhile.

And driving all this is the deadline.

Opening Night

The theatre's been booked, the marketing done, the tickets sold: the curtain must go up on a certain date at a certain time.

This creates an energy and momentum that's able to overcome often seemingly insurmountable problems.

People's creative juices flow (even in the midst of impending disaster) and solutions are found, usually at the eleventh hour.

And the show does go on due to good project management...

All Goes According to Plan

Well actually no.

Mostly, that is what happens but not because of a good project management plan.

You occasionally hear of a blockbuster show's opening delayed because the set isn't ready or the leading lady's walked out, but for the most part that doesn't happen.

All the petty squabbles, personality clashes, differing points of view don't take centre stage - the play does.

Joint Commitment

What makes it work is not the project management plan but rather each individual's commitment to making it happen.

Without that commitment, no show.

Business Project Management

In business, most projects work like that as well.

Real or virtual team members come together with a common goal, agree on a project plan of action, iron out their differences and get on with the job in hand.

Crises are dealt with, all the disparate elements come together (sometimes as if by magic) and even if the solution isn't found till the eleventh hour, the deadlines get met and the project gets finished.

In all project management, people's commitment is paramount.

When There's Just Lip Service

But sometimes that's not what happens.

Petty squabbles become all-out war, hidden agendas knock things off course, project deadlines keep getting pushed back and frustration reigns.

Somehow the whole project gets bogged down and people can't find a way through. Somewhere along the line, the commitment got lost, it was never there, or more important things got in the way.

Now we know there are all kinds of systems and processes that have been devised to make projects run more smoothly.

Some of them are really good, but they don't necessarily deal with the 'people' aspect of projects.

Because that's what project management boils down to, doesn't it?

People make it Happen

It's the people, not the processes that make things happen.

For our money, and to help shift a difficult project, look for the commitment. And you could do worse than using the theatre analogy.

Look at each project as though it was a production where the curtain had to go up, the deadline had to be met.

Look to see how to maintain people's commitment and energy.

Accept the fact that people aren't always going to like each other, there will be arguments, there will be disagreement as to the best way forward, but in the end, the show goes on, the project gets completed.

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