No Bad Ideas
Allowing project managers to use their skills
across the organization is another way to nurture creativity, says Jack Barnett, PMP, PgMP,
operations strategy manager for Triumph
Engine Controls in West Hartford, Connecticut, USA.
“Project management methods may be well-
developed in one part of the organization, but
underdeveloped in other areas,” he says. “Allow-
ing project managers to lead projects in dif-
ferent areas of the organization will keep their
skills honed and encourage creativity.”
Mr. Chaudhry cautions that while cross-
departmental teams can encourage creative
thinking, they need to be organized early in a
project’s life cycle so ideas have time to develop.
Executives could also build in an “experiment”
or “prototype” phase of the project, he says,
during which teams test out new ideas together.
“Executives need to shift their thinking
from constantly finding a solution to finding
an opportunity, and then asking their project leaders to realize it within the project’s
boundaries,” he says.
Supervisors should insist that all methods
used and lessons learned be captured through
post-mortem evaluations, Mr. Barnett says. “This
will allow the creative successes of one project to
be shared with the greater organization.”
Even ideas that failed or didn’t make it into
the project should be documented.
“It’s easy to quickly dismiss certain ideas
because they were tried before and didn’t work,”
Mr. Barnett says. “But maybe the idea just
needed a project manager with a specialized
group of skills to implement it successfully.”
Of course, creative thinking isn’t without
risks. Chasing an unconventional idea can
come at the expense of stakeholder buy-in,
time and money. Knowing when to stop brain-
storming and start implementing an idea can
also be a challenge.
“Every time we diverge from the certainty of
rules or processes, mistakes or errors can take
part in the process,” Mr. Gasparoto says. “But
the benefits far outweigh the risks.” PM
“Creativity becomes a lesser priority when the focus is purely on meeting budget figures and time and quality constraints.”
—Amjad Da’as, PMP, PgMP
Just as stress can bludgeon an innovative idea, two other
creativity killers can plague project teams.
“IT CAN’T BE DONE” THINKING
if project managers decide something can’t be done the
moment a new idea comes up, they’ve quashed the team’s
creativity before ever giving it a shot.
“‘it can’t be done’ thinking has to be avoided at all times,
no matter how difficult that might be. We can’t play a game
without a fight,” says sandro Gasparoto, PgMP, Orange Business services, london, England.
Even talking through why an idea isn’t feasible is better
than simply dismissing it; after all, unsuccessful ideas may
still have elements that can be applied to the project.
Project and organizational leaders should have solid business
acumen to ensure they’re aligning with overall objectives. But
those bottom-line concerns shouldn’t suffocate creativity.
“senior management often encourages and promotes
creativity but is also concerned by the end results of project
delivery, which are usually measured quantitatively, but
not often qualitatively,” says amjad Da’as, PMP, PgMP, iBM,
sydney, australia. “Creativity becomes a lesser priority when
the focus is purely on meeting budget figures and time and
While unchecked creativity can indeed be costly, senior
stakeholders need to understand that new methods, man-
aged properly, can actually save or make money.