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Can Project Management Thrive in a Creative Environment?

I attend a lot of project management seminars and continuing education classes. I do this to maintain my PMP credential, but also for exposure to other industries and PM methodologies. At a seminar I attended recently, a single word put years of effort into perspective for me: Organic.

Generally speaking, I was guilty of perceiving the fluidity of a creative-driven industry as an obstacle to my project management endeavors. It’s no secret that process is a bit of dirty word in advertising. How on earth can we as project managers be successful in streamlining agency process when the very nature of our environment feels, at times, in direct opposition to what we do?

Then the seminar leader introduced the idea of Organic Project Management, a method focused on experience, insights and judgment – not heavy process – and it hit me like a ton of bricks. That’s MY environment. I’m already where the future of Project Management is headed.

Until this point, I’d always felt like a bit of an outsider at these events, trying to figure out exactly “how do I make that work in my environment?” What I’d always considered obstacles – lack of process and loads of flexibility – I suddenly realized were tremendous assets. The lack of rigidity in a creative agency environment allows for unlimited opportunity to try new things, and for knowledge, people and connections to flourish and grow.

Creativity and process are not mutually exclusive. One supports the other and allows each to thrive, and, like all things organic, they do so to achieve a healthy, beneficial, sustainable and ever-evolving life source. And that’s what I love about my job. This organic approach is how we’ve always operated at GSD&M– smart people exploring new and creative ways of solving problems. Until the seminar, I’d perceived it as messy – when it’s actually liberating. Process is necessary, but with an organic approach, it can be enabling, not constraining. It can provide the seamless foundation where ideas can still be king.

So for all you PMs out there trying to make an impact in a creative industry and feeling like the square peg in the round hole, take heed. Don’t fight what makes your culture unique – embrace it, celebrate it and utilize that flexibility and lack of rigidness as an opportunity to do amazing things. Try something different. If for no other reason, simply because you can!

For more information on the Next Generation PMO Seminar, check out Projectize Group.

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