Great Project Managers...
...contribute the glue, the focus, and the talent to make good stuff happen on a jobsite. The focus on getting things done--on getting the entitlements, balancing cost and value during design, and driving construction through to an on-time, on-budget outcome--is the value a project manager brings.
Not every project needs a project manager. As long as team members are willing to be responsible for communicating what needs to be done, simultaneously keep their eye both on the prize and their next three milestones, and are willing to jump into the breach to do what needs to be done to get things done, there is one less mouth to feed.
There needs to be clear authority on keeping the project on-time and on-budget, and triaging issues. Much as a hospital ER has a lead doc deciding care for a patient, a project needs a voice that can make decisions and blaze the trail. This Venn diagram charts the space you start from. If no one owns this space, dysfunction and finger pointing can be the result.
The prime responsibility is to make the project, and all who contribute to it, as successful as possible. This role is ambiguous, and requires a combination of conviction, confidence, and empathy to be effective. You need:
- a top level view necessary to keep focus on where you are and where you need to be,
- the insight to ask the right questions, and the willingness to parachute in and do anything that needs to be done that no one else is doing (well).
- the focus on getting things done means keeping a simpler view of what you do. But simple does not mean easy.
Tom Peters, in his essay, Pursuing the Perfect Project Manager, describes the paradoxes inherent in pursuing the required outcome. Project management is a balancing act, an art that requires intuition, judgement and experience to resolve the raw inputs of capital, knowledge, labor and material into the desired asset.
Go "Make Good Stuff Happen!"