Project Management is Sexy

Written by RPI Consultants Partner Justin Braun

I have been a Management Consultant in one way shape or form since 1999. At the ripe age of 22, I was hardly qualified to consult anyone on anything. Now I am fortunate enough to be a partner at RPI Consultants; along with Keith Wayland, Greg Pollard, Richard Stout and Geoff Lilienfeld. I am in charge of our Service Delivery, so it makes sense that I’m the one writing about our experiences with Project Management. The last two years of my career have been focused, primarily, on designing and implementing formal Project Management systems at RPI Consultants. Promulgating this Project Management Office (PMO) to our team and customers has not exactly been easy, but I can honestly say it’s been one of the most rewarding projects of my professional life to date. I am eager to recognize those that have helped, and share what we have learned!

This piece is the first in a series on what we’ve come to understand as Project Management, the RPI way. Our work is far from done, please stay tuned for future installments! We value your partnership, so please, email me at [email protected] with observations, counter-points, or topics you’d like to read about. Enjoy!

After two years working on the RPI PMO, I’ve come to believe two things: 1) The title of this piece is actually quite true, and 2) The RPI Experience for our customers, colleagues and overall company, is improved exponentially when everyone believes it. So let’s start there, because if you don’t think it’s sexy, why the hell would you want it? So at this point, you may be asking yourself “what is this ‘sexy’ he speaks of?”

At RPI, we take our work seriously, but we don’t necessarily take ourselves too seriously. Those that work with me know that when I really like something, I’m prone to call it Sexy with a capital S! And I’m not the only one (Geoff, Stephanie, Logan, you know who you are). To get to the heart of Sexy, let me first caution you to NOT google this word at work – that would be bad. Having already gone down that rabbit hole, I’ll share that Merriam Webster defines it as “Stimulating. Generally attractive or interesting.” Hmmm, that’s nice, but not particularly … ya know.

Alas, somewhere in the middle ground between profane and boring, we find Urban Dictionary, an excellent resource to the contemporary business executive, which nails it: “it’s not a word, it’s an attitude” and “supposed to mean sexually attractive, however recently it has become a word of ambiguous meaning that morons use when unable to think of a better adjective for something they like.” Nice!

So I’m here to pimp PM, and I’m encouraged that most people I’ve encountered along the way – from the customer that “doesn’t need PM time,” to the consultant that “hates to be micro-managed” (and believe me I’ve been both at different times in my career) – everyone is totally into good Project Management. In fact, I thought about naming this article “Good Project Management is Sexy as Hell” – but to me it’s kind of obvious isn’t it? Perfume isn’t Sexy, good perfume is Sexy. Not all food is Sexy, but interesting and well prepared food served with a beautiful bottle of wine in a serene setting, while making eyes at the one you love is incredibly Sexy! You get the point. By the way, this is all very subjective. If you hate perfume no matter what, or if you think cold mashed potatoes are totally hot… so be it!

Alchemy is Sexy!

Paulo Coelho has the right of way on this one: “When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

So when we speak of alchemy being Sexy, we speak not of the transformation of base metals into gold, but rather the transformation of a group of individuals into a team capable of achieving amazing things together. How does it work? Nobody knows exactly. There’s no written formula. But if you’re lucky, you’ve either been a part of a highly functioning team, or in love, or both… and you know what it feels like! This is the essence of good Project Management.

Creativity is Sexy!

Albert Einstein probably never graced the cover of Cosmopolitan or even GQ, but his ideas are unquestionably captivating. One of the most respected scientists of all time was talking about intuition when he said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” One thing everyone seems to agree on – the PMBOK is the antithesis of Sexy. Like Econ 101, the theory is sound, it just doesn’t connect to real life.

Competence is Sexy!

This cannot be overstated. Beyoncé walking down the street is just another beautiful woman. What really makes her Sexy is that she’s amazingly good at what she does, which is singing and dancing. PM’s are Sexy when they do what they do well, which could be a lot of things, often times via email or on a conference call, though rarely singing and never dancing.

Visual Appeal is Sexy

It’s a biological imperative!

Resources are attractive, resourcefulness is Sexy!

When I met my wife in our early 30’s – she had a great job in the IT field (like me!) and on the side, devising her own ways and means, she had worked hard to assemble a real estate portfolio that included several rental properties. I have to admit, I found her assets attractive (I’m an assets man), but what really got me fired up was how she got it done. Another example that proves the same point, we have a valued team member at RPI who went to Iraq and drove a fricking tank to pay for his college education. That’s what I’m talking about. Project Management is happening when complex requirements are matched to the right resources. RPI Project Managers have lots of great resources to draw from, and what’s really impressive is figuring out how to get the work done efficiently, consistently, and to the highest level of quality.

Control is Sexy!

Oh yeah, we’re getting’ a little risqué here, and no, you will not have to sign a Christian Grey NDA to engage an RPI PM. But let’s face it, all people require structure to succeed – and it’s got to be somebody’s job to create that structure. You know who’s a great PM? Ray Donovan (from the Showtime series of the same name). It’s probably not the title on his business card (my guess is “Fixer” or “Strong Silent Type”) but dude is in con-trol right? He always knows what other people are going to do, before they do it, and he makes accommodations either directly or indirectly to get the outcome desired for his clients.

Endurance is Sexy!