Creativity in Project Management: It’s not Rocket Science, or is it?

By Lakecia Carter, PMP

What comes to your mind when you think of Project Management? Do you view it as a means to an end, a way to get things done, a way of life? When was the last time you thought of Project Management as an art? The “art” aspect of Project Management is what I call the soft side: Leadership, Motivation, Inspiration, Relationship, Team Building, to name a few. In my experience as a project manager, my opinion is that 90% of a project manager’s job is Art and 10% Science. Creativity and Innovation are born out of the 90% – not the 10%.

Good news is you don’t have to become Einstein or come up with all of the ideas by yourself. Great news is that you can lead a team that drives and delivers innovative solutions to your clients. You can do this by recognizing and responding to basic human behaviors that can influence creativity in Project Management. Here are three ways you can spark creativity in your role as a PM:

Be an Enabler

Human beings are curious and inquisitive. Ask open-ended questions and actively engage your team members and listen to what they have to say. No idea is a bad idea. Good ideas become great when team members collaborate on the ideas. Make those ideas visible on a board and explore them.

Be an Encourager

Human beings have a need for personal and professional validation from others – whether it is our peers, our bosses or those whose opinion we value. Give individuals and teams positive and negative reinforcement when they need it. Encourage them to think outside of the perceived box.

Be an Emancipator

Human beings love to be free and adventurous. We need to have fun and fulfillment in what we do. Incorporate balance and flexibility in your processes and practices. People who are allowed to be passionate and express themselves will be more likely to generate fresh ideas.

To answer the question, creativity in project management is not rocket science, but it can be if we don’t tap into our own “humanness” and that of our teams where creativity can be born. What are some ways you can enable, encourage and emancipate yourself and your teams to be more creative and innovative in 2010?

© 2009 PMVisionware, Inc. All rights reserved.

3 Responses to “Creativity in Project Management: It’s not Rocket Science, or is it?”

  1. Creativity is vital in both the design and inplementation of projects as well in development management as whole.
    Firstly, an intervention must be designed in the best way that will suit a particular context. This means the project manager must strategize over choices and data to come out with the best plan, work breakdown and possible outcome. If sustainability is considered as a device to better failing interventions (Gow and Morss, 1988) then it is creativity that will be employed to design a more sustainable intervention.
    This point works on the premise that sustainibility involves both an understanding of the extent to which a project will impact and be effective in a particular context (processes) and the dimension that it should have requirements of sustaining itself on donor exit especially in developing countries.
    As to the time-bound nature of projects or the scarcity of resources being deterrents to unwanted features (creations) in project design, i think many project designs have been designed with an in-built creative tool for possible replicability or for donors to sponsor future projects of the designers of these projects.
    This probably accounts why donors look at an applicant’s former interventions or networks in ascertaining whether they will grant him/her sponsorhip.
    It must also be said that creativity in its fluid sense is like an artform. Some people simply have it more than others. Some project managers are more responsive creators than others while others are equally more strategic than others. Resource dependency theories might however be watch dogs to both examples.
    Creativity finally , has ingredients of rocket science and the flexibility derived from the project managers own world views and influences and other issues in his character. It will thus be more complete if it uses project management principles and practices and the styles of the project manager which in most cases is fueled on how he percieves solving a problem to a particular context.

  2. Lakecia says:

    Thanks Arrey for sharing your perspective! I agree that creativity is a vital part of design, implementation and the overall development management! May your creativity continue to abound in 2010!

  3. ortodonci says:

    You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about half an hour. I am a newbie and your post is valuable for me.

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