Project Practitioners > What is a P.R.O.J.E.C.T. Manager? Part 3 of 7

What is a P.R.O.J.E.C.T. Manager? Part 3 of 7

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 4 minutes


It is week three of my exploration into the question, “What is a project manager?” In previous weeks, I discussed some of the ‘P’ and ‘R’ nouns used to describe a project manager.


This week, ‘O’ nouns will be discussed. Again, this discussion does not encompass all that a project manager can be, but it delves into the core and creates discussion.


Let’s get started with part three.



People cannot always agree. There will be times of conflict. In some cases, you will be the one opposing ideas or directions for the project. These objections may be a way to CYA or lessons learned from experience.


Being an objector does not make you a pessimist. Truth can lie within objection. If you are surrounded by a group of yes people, you may find yourself in situations that could have been avoided had someone around you been honest.


Celebrities are classic examples of individuals surrounding themselves with buddies rather than people who have their best interests at hand. Be an objector and welcome objectors.


Ask the question, "Why?" If your idea can survive many rounds of why questions, it has clout and should be pursued. If the idea dies within a few why questions, you will no longer waste your time with a terrible idea.



Observation is crucial to a project manager’s success. Two views of observation are bird’s eye and worm’s eye viewpoints.


A bird’s eye view is from afar. It has perspective on the entire lay of the land. It is broad in nature and creates a high-level understanding of the project.


A worm’s eye view is from within. You become a part of the machine per say. You have hands-on knowledge of the operation. This viewpoint is narrow and specific leading to greater understanding of an individual component of a project.


Both are useful tools for project managers and depend on the individual’s management style. One may work better for different projects. Construction projects require more worm’s eye view because the problems are unique to the activity.



I do not mean this term as upsetting everyone in your way and burning bridges. I mean offender as an aggressive, proactive term. Instead of being on the defensive, a project manager should look to attack.


See an opportunity and capitalize is what an offender will do. Problem seeking is another way to describe an offender. Seeking out the issues helps to remain proactive and nips problems in the bud before they bloom into something major.



Omnipotent has a place in religion as identifying God. I do not mean for project managers to act as a god. I use this term in an all-knowing sense.


Knowing the specifications inside and out can be crucial to a project’s success. There will be traps along a project that can be managed through the spec. book. Construction treats the spec. book as Bible. All your answers should be within, and if it is not, you have an advantage in establishing the next steps.


Another aspect of omnipotent is having ultimate power and influence. A project manager should have both of those over his or her team. The idea is not to abuse said power and influence.



Put on your Edward de Bono yellow hat and start to think about the possibilities. If you are going to dream, might as well dream big. An optimistic project manager gives hope to a team or project that is struggling.


If an obstacle stands in your way, there is always a way around it. An issue arises, and it is the project manager’s duty to put the fire out.


Putting things into perspective helps to drive optimism. Is the problem so terrible? Are these opportunities taking the project to greater heights? If so, how high can we take this thing?


Bring the light at the end of the tunnel every day. There is enough sad or bad news existing in all aspects of life.



Originality boils down to being yourself. Insert your behaviors, attributes, and characteristics into the project, team, and your role. Create an environment without robots listening to your every command and allow your team to explore their autonomy.


Having these different perspectives brings to life original ideas. A book someone read about aliens may provide insight on how to handle a stakeholder. It sounds out of the box, but real-life themes are interwoven throughout fiction.


Anyone can take a test, pass with flying colors, and start to lead a team based on what they have studied. Technology should not easily replace project managers. Originality and personality play a role in how your team sees you. Templates, tasks, and programs are something a machine can provide.



Claiming ownership and responsibility is a large factor in a project manager’s career. You must own both your successes and failures.


Owners have different responsibilities than employees. The big picture needs to be clear to an owner. What direction is this project heading? How can we make more money, save more money, or create an advantage over the competition? Owners ask themselves these questions often.


Project managers need to do the same. Instead of being an employee of an organization, take on ownership. See things as an executive would. Trim the fat, enhance the opportunities, and propel the company and project into the future.



The amount of hats a project manager wears is numerous. These discussions of what a project manager is opens our eyes to endless roles.


Contradiction starts to play a role. Project managers are like sour patch kids, sometimes sour and sometimes sweet. This duality makes it difficult to sum up the role of project manager. One day it is clerical work, the next day driving all day, and then the next day getting our hands dirty.


What are some of the ‘O’ words you would use to describe a project manager?


Next week, I will discuss ‘J’ nouns that describe a project manager.

Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

Orator, Opportunist are couple of more to describe PM.

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