Beautiful Project Management is Unbiased


When everything comes together and the simplest solution is discovered through painstaking discipline and design, beautiful project management is unbiased. It does not matter whether you are a producer at Frog or IDEO, a delivery project manager at Apple, an engineer at NASA, or a social entrepreneur working in Africa, beautiful project management looks and feels the same. It is simple and elegant.

I began working as a project manager in 2002 but I didn’t realize it. Back then, I called myself a resource advisor working for the 65th Communications Squadron. After that, I served as a quality assurance evaluator for Air Force Space Command in Colorado. When I left the Air Force, I have served as a program control analyst, schedule manager, risk manager, training coordinator, and management consultant. None of these possessed the title of project manager but they all served the same role. My job was to help people. It may not have been flashy or sexy, but I helped people and I continue to do so.

A couple years ago, I was introduced to an entirely new industry of what I thought were project managers but who called themselves designers. They specialized mainly in web development but I learned about industrial designers and social innovators. Their solutions and methods fascinated me and for a while, I felt like a newcomer to Facebook, everyone else looked happier and healthier than me but I realized we all suffered the same problems and frustrations, we just used different terminology.

Art Museum Drawing

In both worlds, design and project management, the best solutions always look the same. They are simple, elegant, and unbiased. They don’t care where they came from or who they help. Their only goal is to exist so that others may be happier and healthier. I always thought being a project manager meant I was supposed to wear fancy suits and fly all over the world solving the big problems in big organizations. When I read about firms like IDEO and Frog, those stereotypes quickly dissolved and I was jealous of folks who traded ties for t-shirts and dry clean slacks for blue jeans and comfortable shoes.

The answer is never on one end of the spectrum or the other. It always floats in the middle between both poles. Project managers need artists and more creativity. Designers still need to work within the basic constraints of every project (scope, time, cost, resources, risks, and quality). When it all fits together perfectly, I call it beautiful project management. You can call it whatever you want but you know it when you see it. Just like a beautiful piece of artwork, an elegant solution just makes sense. You can show it to a child and it requires no explanation.

Beautiful project management is unbiased, it does not care where it comes from or where it goes. It’s only goals are simplicity and elegance.

This post first appeared on kevinwraney.wordpress.com.

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