What a project manager can learn from a construction foreman

…that a hard hat, clipboard and loudhailer are also useful on the building sites of IT projects

Any project manager will tell you; running projects is tough. You never feel on top of your plan (if it still reflects reality), you are always chasing people to do things and your end goal changes every day. This is no different from a building site; multiple inter-dependent tasks and suppliers, the work doesn’t get done if you are not there and no matter how well you plan things, change inevitably creeps in. [paragraph 1 of 5]

You will never see a construction foreman without his hard hat, clipboard or loudhailer; these are his physical necessities which translate well to IT projects. A hard hat means you expect things to fall from the sky – don’t be surprised, rather be prepared. Wear your metaphorical hard hat to your status meetings, design workshops, steercos and any time you need to expect the unexpected (ie every day). [2/5]

Sure, there are complex A0 architecture diagrams in the site office depicting every aspect of the finished construction but the foreman only goes on site with the information useful for that day. Don’t try and absorb or communicate the full detail of your IT project plan all the time – break it down to what’s real and important at any given time. In all the projects I have been part of there are always a select few pages of plans, diagrams, lists etc that mean the most to the most people – get on top of these; live and breathe them. [3/5]

Communication in teams is crucial and explained in more detail here, but project comms is managed far more around milestones. You can do countdowns (explained here), updates, desk drops, chat groups etc but your metaphorical loudhailer means you get people’s attention, you have the important information people need to know. A loudhailer gets over the physical noise of a building site, as an IT project manager you will need to get over the corporate noise of distraction and time wasting. [4/5]

Gear up today for the building site of your project; focus on the right information (clipboard), prepare for falling objects (hardhat) and get your message across loud and clear (loudhailer). This is metaphorically speaking of course, but you would be the most talked about project manager if you actually used these for real at your next workshop to really make the point and have some fun! [5/5]

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