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Project Success

February 4, 2010

Thankfully, my concerns about the future of the Project Management class have proved a little less grave than the prior class suggested.  The second class was still crowded – every seat was taken and the TAs had to sit on chairs to the side – but we seemed to have lost a few students, which made it a little less over-crowded feeling.  And the professor had more pedagogical control.  We started learning how to construct a project in Microsoft’s Project 2007 software.  I’m glad to soon be adding another piece of software to my list of skills.

The professor tells us that the 2010/2011 version of Project will be far superior to what we’re using in class (which is, in turn, much better than the 2003 version).  So that’s something to look forward to, if I do any significant amount of work in this program in the future.  The key failing in Project, with regards to the life cycle of project management, is that it makes no provision for the first stage or project management, in which the purpose of the project is reviewed and the scope determined.  This focus on the design of the project over this developmental stage means that a lot of people who are doing “project management” are failing to grasp the difference of whether their projects are really adding value to their organizations. 

Basically, I’m again excited about what I stand to learn in this class.

That being said… It’s sort of difficult to tie this back to writing in a meaningful way, but here goes my best shot.  Considering this stage in the novel-writing or story-writing process means, in essence, asking the question “why write this story?” or “does this story add any value to what has already been written on this subject?”  But the answer to those questions is self-evident to the writer.  The writer is driven by an internal need and purpose more than any desire to add external value to customers.

However, when we recognize that, to be successful in writing endeavours, we have to be cognizant of the needs of our “customers”, the readers, we can really elevate the quality of our writing, and make a valuable impact that writing to our own inner muse alone will not allow us to make.  A writer needs to write, and that fact doesn’t change.  To be successful, a writer needs to write for his readers.  That, if properly addressed early in a writing project, will better prepare the writer for a successful project.

Which is not to say that I’m suggesting writers should be soulless, market-driven automata (I’m sure, soon enough, we’ll have actual soulless, market-driven automata that can write; i.e. well-programmed computers).  If the writer doesn’t love what he or she writes, have a passion for it and believe in it, then the work is doomed, of course.  So you have to write what you’re passionate about.  But if you want to succeed, I think you also need to balance your passion against what the audience will want.  Chances are, there’s a huge area of overlap.  Find that area and exploit it.

Happy writing (and happy project management).

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