Which Film Star Would Play You in a Movie About Project Management?

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robert-deniroHas there ever been a movie made about project management? I don’t remember ever seeing one and while it might sound weird to suggest this subject to a Hollywood producer you just need to think for a minute about some of the other strange subject matters which have been given the movie treatment in the past. So, if someone were to make a movie about one of your projects who would play you? Let’s see who would play me, to see if it gives you any ideas.

Tom Hanks

Hanks is an actor I like more all the time. I used to find him a little annoying to be honest but he seems to have been in a few roles which have been more to my taste. He’s a few years older than me I guess but, hey, he stills looks good enough to play me as long as he has a good sleep before each scene and puts on enough make up. I think he would portray the project manager in the movie as a being a sympathetic, intelligent guy who likes a bit of fun, which is pretty much how I would like to be seen. Hopefully he won’t get up to any of that nonsense he did in the Da Vinci Code, running away from the cops and cracking bizarre codes. It would make a more exciting film than him holding meetings and dealing with staffing issues but it wouldn’t be very accurate, would it?

Robert De Niro

Can you believe that Robert De Niro is now 69 years old? It seems to have been a few years since I saw one of his movies but he has long been one of my favourite actors. However, he would be a far scarier project manager than me. I like to think that I have a fairly gentle approach to dealing with my team members but can you imagine this guy bearing down on a hapless worker after they had failed to meet a deadline? I can’t help thinking that De Niro would make me seem like a far more aggressive project manager than I really am, although he is famous for being a studious method actor. Maybe he would follow me around at work for weeks in order to see what makes me tick and study my mannerisms. Wouldn’t that be awkward?

Jack Black

This is the last person I want to see play me in a film about my work. I was on an overnight bus journey in South America a couple of years ago and the driver decided to torture us all by putting on a sequence of Jack Black movies. Actually, it might just have been one, really long movie but the truth is that I suffered through a good portion of the Andes while this actor regaled us with small range of acting skills. I would like to think that millions of people across the globe wouldn’t walk out of my film thinking that I am a project buffoon who has a habit of making toilet related jokes and getting involved in very silly situations. You just wouldn’t take a project manager like Jack Black seriously, would you? There is a time to joke around but there is also a time to be serious and show that you mean business.

Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean)

As a kid growing up in the UK I loved Rowan Atkinson in his role as Blackadder. This is probably still my favourite comedy of all time and I really must look out a DVD or two next weekend. Anyway, if you wanted to make me appear like a bumbling idiot then you could cast him as me. I now have this image in my head of Mr Bean sitting at the head of a project meeting and mumbling away in that silly little voice of his. Having Atkinson play a project manager would show us how important good communication is. As well as the importance of a bit of common sense I suppose.

Brad Pitt 

Well, if you are going to let me choose who is going to play me you aren’t expecting someone ugly, are you? Incredibly, he is about a decade older than me but he would still have them swooning in the aisles as he goes over the plan and updates the risks and issues log. The big problem with this casting decision is that some people might be tempted to see me/Brad on a superficial level, when I would really like to be taken seriously as a project leader. That’s always the problem for us handsome chaps, isn’t it?

How Will You Stay Calm When Everything Is Going Wrong?

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project-manager-meditating-to-stay-calmWe might as well start with the bad news. Things will go wrong on your projects. This might be a shock to anyone who hasn’t worked in the project world before now but anyone who has worked on projects isn’t likely to have fallen off their chair in shock when reading it.

So, how do you cope when everything seems to be going wrong at work? The first step is to stay calm and the following are a few points to help you do this.

Look at Your Plan Again

The project plan can be a very soothing document once you learn how to use it in the way that it is intended to be used. If the project is going badly then you could spend maybe an hour looking at it and working out what changes you need to make in order to get the work back on track. With a bit of luck it just needs a few tweaks here and there to sort it out. I used to work with a project manager who said that he could see the project plan like Keanu Reeves saw the world at the end of the Matrix. He said that instead of dates and lines he could see the work developing and feel as though he was genuinely interacting with the future work. I think he was joking but I kind of understand what he means on some level. It can be easy to lose yourself in the plan and feel as though you are seeing the work develop in front of you. Once you get to this stage in your experience level then it should be easier to do this to calm yourself down when it feels as though the project has been running away from you.

Do What Has Worked Before

I always find that doing what has worked for me in the past gives me a feeling of calmness. In general terms I like to always keep the job interesting by trying out new techniques and tools whenever I can. However, over the years I have come to the conclusion that trying out new things on a project is something which needs to be done when the pressure levels aren’t so high. When the chips are down I like to go back to doing what I have always done in the past. What this means in practical terms is that you should pay attention to the things which work for you. For example, if you save a troubled project by calling everyone together for an urgent workshop and a re-drawing of the plan then this is a tactic which can probably come in useful again in the future. Anything which has worked one for you is likely to work again in the future in similar circumstances. Of course, you will still want to progress and learn new things. The key is in choosing well your moments for doing this.

Stick to the Basics

Following on from the previous point, perhaps an ever clearer way of seeing matters is to look at the project basics which need carried out and stick to them. This means having a solid, up to date plan, knowing what your objectives are and keeping your team and stakeholders all working together and pulling in the right direction. If you can stick to these basics every time you run into problems then you should find that you get the project back on track more easily. If you think about it, every successful project involves certain key elements such as those we just looked at. If you can look after these issues then the work will be a lot easier to handle. Neglect them, though, and it will be a lot more difficult, if not impossible.

Trust Yourself 

If you are going to stay calm then you are going to have to learn to trust your instincts and work methods. Unfortunately, when a project starts going off track one of the first things which many of us do is start to doubt our own ability to sort things out. If you have successfully run projects in the past then it should be easier for you to draw on those experiences and understand that you are capable doing so again. If it is your first project then it will be a good deal more difficult to do this. However, you need to learn to trust yourself if you are going to be an expert project manager and this is as good a time as any to do so.

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