Saving the world, One Gorilla Project Manager at a Time

I leaned back with a heavy sigh. “What on earth ever possessed me to choose a career in project management?” I asked the blank ceiling.


Lacking a response from the blank ceiling I looked back down at my computer screen. Sigh, another day, another status report. I was starting to wonder if it was all worth it. Sure it was a paycheck. But so was digging ditches and at the end of the day digging at least you can see what you’ve accomplished. I felt more Sisyphus endlessly creating status reports, only to have to start all over next week. Which brought me back to the same question I had just asked the ceiling.


What on earth ever possessed me to choose be a project?


A deep voice spoke from the darkness of my after hours office. “Oh, that’s simple. Because you wanted to change the world.”


Save the world? I looked into the depth of the darkness and said, “What, are, you, smoking, Hogarth?”


I watched my gorilla materialize from the darkness of the corner, half eaten fichus branch in hand .  “Well I’ve heard dried banana leaves make a good kindling. Not sure what that has to do with saving world.” He waved the fichus branch at my computer. “You’re doing this job because ditch diggers don’t tend to change the world by themselves.”


I threw up my hands. “Hogarth, I’m just a cog in the machine. At the very best I’m the project glue, but that’s only because I’ve been crushed in the machinery of process and gummed up the works.”


Hogarth nodded his massive head, “Glue you say? So you’re saying you hold the project together?”


I gave a shrug, “I suppose so. Feel more like a border collie most of the time as I chase everyone down for status.”


Hogarth cocked his head to the side. “You know what else is a lot like glue?”


I shook my head and turned back to my computer screen. I wasn’t really interested in playing his games.


“A nail,” he said causing me to snort.


I looked back at him, “You know what they say about the nail? The nail that sticks out gets pounded down.”


Hogarth nodded sagely, “True. They also say, ‘For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost.”


Uhh…. Had Hogarth just hit the proverbial nail on the head?




I don’t have some eye opening revelation for you. I don’t have any statistics to point at. And I’m sorry to say set super powers to suggest. This isn’t a call to specific “go do this” action.


This is a call to action.


I believe that Project Management can change the world. I believe it can make it a better world.


Now this does bring up the whole “project management” title issue again, that I’ve talked about in a past blog. In that the title project manager really doesn’t fit what we who hold that title do. Whether we are “Project Leaders” as Kimberly Wiefling espouses or my own “Catalyst Leader” idea, we are no longer well defined by our 20th century title. So to prevent confusion and rat holes, I’ll stick with calling us Project Managers for this blog.


Project Managers have become an integral part of business. Across the business lines and across industries we are in every corner of the business world. Like the grizzled sergeant major of war movie trope, we have seen it all. When the new kid (Product Manager, Engineering Manager, CEO) comes in, we see them stumble there way through like so many have before. When they reach out to us for help, we can easily step up and let them know where the coffee, staplers, process documents and even mine fields are. We are the common denominator that pervades our companies and within us lies not only the institutional  knowledge of our firms, also within us lies the wisdom and moral compass of our firms.


Our role as project shepherd coupled with our relationships within and without the organization, gives us a great amount of influence over others. And as the famed statesman, Winston Churchill, said “The price of greatness is responsibility.”


We not only can change the world, it is our responsibility to.


It isn’t even that hard for us to effect change. Just the act of being the best and most ethical business professional we can be, can create change. As a key figure on project teams, our visibility within companies is great. If we do our best, we are doing our best in front of a large cross-section of the company. Our example becomes there example and they in turn will influence the rest. We become the butterfly whose wings create a hurricane a half a world away.


We have a responsibility to help our teams, our projects, our companies be better.


We have the power and ability to do that.


We have the power to make a better world.


We have a responsibility to make a better world.


Sure, we may do it one team member or one project at a time. And that’s okay. If the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, then the journey to a better world can start with the first project manager who believes we can change the world.


I believe.



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  1. Pingback: New PM Articles for the Week of October 8 – 14 | The Practicing IT Project Manager

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