Misfits of project
- The "visible project management"
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So, welcome issue nr. 1! This is an ironic newsletter – we like having fun.
Why a newsletter on
misfits? The idea came to us in Lugano on a Sunday afternoon: we were
thinking about a seminar we had attended the week before in another country,
and we were laughing at the “visible project management” (something
involving plenty of multi-colored post-its, some Japanese words and a lot of
boards – but no seats, not even stools) which had even been called a
Because of a strange
coincidence, the evening before we had been writing an introduction to
project management; to our own surprise, part of that introduction had to be
dedicated to de-mithing some “conventional wisdom” elements.
It is really a strange
world that in which one has to de-mith something to explain what Project
Management is. At any rate, this is how things are and probably one of the
main reasons why project management is often unknown or, worse,
You see, the problem
here is that one does not need to be a Qualified Project Manager to be a
project manager: a doctor must be qualified; so must an engineer, an
accountant, a teacher and so on.
What’s better than
saying you are a project manager and maybe even propose your own “solution”?
You could even end up making some money, especially in these times of
crisis. The only problem is you are not a qualified Project Manager.
You know, there is
nothing unethical in not being a qualified Project Manager; after all, some
good project managers are not qualified. But is it ok to go around and
And mind, sometimes
there are even some qualified project managers who have some “wonderful”
We were thinking about
this and laughing at modern fads, when we realized another reason why
project management is misunderstood is “misfits of project management”.
So, this is where, how
and why this newsletter was born. Welcome to “Misfits of project
The “visible project management”
It was a windy and
After the first
speaker, each of these “visible” guys spoke about the “visible project
management”. After those pieces of wisdom there were many questions, so the
matter was quite clear.
What follows are our
impressions: maybe we were mistaken, not attentive enough, and so on; but
then maybe not, who knows?
So, “visible project
management” involves a team meeting: the project manager is there only to
hear what the team has to say on the project; every team member knows what
is to be done, so he/she says what he/she is going to do and writes it down
on a post-it which is then placed on boards (there are many types of boards)
with some Japanese name of sorts.
There is at least a
team-meeting per week just for the sake of it (team-working) and there are
specific team-meetings during which “concerns” are expressed and/or the team
performs some re-planning – yes, the team, not the project manager or the
team-leader. “Solved” concerns (i.e., post-its) are put inside another board
area besides post-its (of another colour, obviously) with the solution.
Everyone has to be
present, it does not matter how far away he/she works or how big the team
is; personal presence makes team-working.
The meeting room has no
seats, because team-members have to get used to 30-minute meetings; the
meeting room holds all the post-it boards, too, so after a while the boards
start invading the corridor.
The meeting room (and
corridor) is always open to everyone. Excellent, you have guessed right!
That is the reason why this thing is the “visible project management”. Stop
laughing, please, these are matters of deep concern! Ahahah!
But all this philosophy
goes beyond: firms must innovate, so workers must take their time to think.
So, sometimes people
are to cease all work, maybe for one week (that, too, has a Japanese name),
and think about innovation. At least, that is what we understood.
What about big and/or
geographically dispersed teams?
No video or call
conferences: it takes just a pair of days to catch a flight and....
Was there an answer on
big teams which made “sense”?
Who is going to check
and control the team?
Why, the team itself!
If someone is not volunteering to do enough work (at least according to the
others), they will be reprimanded in public by their own colleagues. That
was tried by a political ideology, it seems to us, and it was a total
So, are we in the area
of political philosophy or what?
Are responsibilities to
be officially recorded, or is a post-it in the no-seat room or in the
What are you thinking
of? Responsibility? Official records? Are you a stone-age and brutal savage
(as usual those were not the words which were spoken, but this is an ironic
newsletter, isn’t it)? We live in a new era, certain means are relicts of
The team re-plans. How
does it interact with the management which is going to pay?
Why, “visible project
management” does not exclude other methodologies!
At this point, some
Project Management = to
manage projects. What is managed in “visible project management”? The buying
of tons of multi-coloured post-its?
Methodology = there is
a method. Where is the methodology here? In putting tons of post-its
everywhere and in “not excluding” other methodologies for all the rest?
According to us, the
“visible project management” is a philosophy; ok, a visible philosophy and
maybe a messy philosophy (post-its all around), but a philosophy all the
And the project
manager? He/she is there to hear the team-members who know, by definition,
what has to be done (even by other team-members?)
So, if John is
contributing 10, Helen is obliged to contribute at least 5 or more,
otherwise her colleagues will scourge her for not doing enough; what if
Helen's expertise is not necessary at all in that project? So, Helen will
put 10 post-its on the board, the ambitious Henry at least 12; besides,
Henry will criticize John and Mary, Joan ...... You see, the no-seat room is
a great idea: they are not going to use seats against each other ...... but
there are plenty of boards.
Ok, guys, that is
enough for this month ... at least, we can’t take any more of this without
laughing too much – we take care of our own health.
“Misfits of project
management” is free and can be freely forwarded: some healthy fun is
necessary in these modern times.
Being an ironic
newsletter, it reflects only ideas. “Answers” or assertions that are not
between inverted commas [‘….’] are not to be considered as “true” answers or
assertions: that is only a way to express ironically what is perceived.
We make use of another
set of inverted commas [“….”]: those are no quotations at all, just a
literary device of ours to make concepts clearer.
If you desire to
contribute with your experiences or ideas, please drop us an e-mail at