Dubious thoughts on project management

Project management is one pie which I don’t know whether I want to take a piece, but everybody is going for it and it is the aim for most.

In my narrow perspective, this is how I see managers (I haven’t yet become one, even though I am well on the course of becoming one some day in future): Some were basking in the glory of past successful projects. They have been part of two or three successful projects. It is like drinking a powerful potion of experience and then running on that fuel. I don’t know how long it will last. In some ways I think I have started practicing that. Symptoms of such managers will be frequent references to the best practices of those projects.

Some have an air of mystery around them. The team will not know specifics of what he has done in the past, but have heard this name. They had some colorful past experience in mysterious things like .NET, COM/DCOM, EJB. Some are lucky not to have faced a situation which tested their mettle.

Some of them come from onsite (client location) and automatically become a wise-man. If you are long time onsite, you are automatically considered as an expert and can be nothing less than a manager.

Some take “initiatives”, “energetic-active-enthusiastic facades” to get there.
Some continue being a manager because of the information they possess which they won’t part with. Information is the real power. That is what experience will give you. Information about different kind of situations. Even without contributing much, if you just be there in all kinds of situations, fairly intelligent person, can handle that situation later.

One essential quality which you need (which I don’t possess enough) is the art of “becoming noticeable”. Be somebody whom everybody knows, at least the name. It doesn’t matter if your peers don’t know you. If all those guys who might decide anything for you at any time (even if you think a person can become important in future and might be useful for you), knows you, then you have a good start. I often get comments like “very good, excellent work..but work on the visibility factor, make your presence felt”. There are lots of techniques to increase your “visibility factor”, I will come to that some other time.

I can go on an on painting a gloomy, immoral, hopeless picture about this. Complaining has become a habit now and I guess it gives some good feeling. The fact is, project management is definitely needed – there is no doubt in my mind. I have problems with the means to get there, antics one should perform to show that he is eligible, incompetent ones who got there, the fact that once you reach there it means the end of your technical career etc. On the last point – my fear is, once you reach there, you enter a state of coma when it comes to technology. “technology doesn’t matter” from there onwards. Successful delivery of a project, resource management, pre-sales, ensuring quality and all related jargon becomes part of life. How long will it be interesting? If I get there at age 27, for the rest of my life, will I be able run on the fuel I fill up now? From there onwards, you need to play more mind games and politics and “show business” to sustain your position and move up the “value chain”.

I think I am in a juncture where I need to decide whether I swim with the tide (Project management stream) or divert and go do some core technical work (which I believe will interest me, I may be capable of that, I have the smarts for that etc). But as usual, I don’t have the courage to get out the pre-set path or change the way things are going. Let it spin whatever it wants. I call it my “let’s see” attitude.

This kind of useless thoughts are spinning in my head. I think I will continue on this line for some more time.

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