The curious project manager
I always was curious, and my curiosity developed my passion for reading since my early ages. I found several definitions of curiosity in the dictionary: the desire to learn or know more about something or someone; something that is interesting because it is unusual.
Projects have a lot of uncertainty, and then I defend that every project manager needs to be curious in order to be more effective managing your projects. Are you curious? Curiosity is an important trait of a genius. I do not think you can find a successful project manager who is not a curious person. I believe every project manager needs to develop his/her curiosity. When you, as a project manager, feel curious, you will ask questions to your project stakeholders to get an answer, to mitigate the uncertainty that matters.
I discovered four reasons because curiosity is important for a project manager:
- It makes your mind active instead of passive: The curious project manager always ask questions and search for answers in their minds. Their minds are always active. Since the mind is like a muscle, which becomes stronger through continual exercise, the mental exercise caused by curiosity makes your mind stronger and stronger.
- It makes your mind catching new ideas: if you are curious about something in a project; your mind expects and anticipates new ideas related to it. When some ideas come, you will recognize them. Without curiosity, the ideas may pass right in front of you and yet you miss them because your mind is not prepared to recognize them. Just think, how many great ideas may have lost due to lack of curiosity?
- It opens up a huge window and possibilities: By being curious, you will be able to see new approaches and possibilities in the projects you manage which are normally not visible, that were hidden behind the surface of normal life, and it takes a curious mind to look beneath the surface and discover these new worlds and possibilities.
- It brings excitement into your projects: The life of curious project managers is far from boring. It is neither dull nor routine. There are always new things that attract their attention; there are always new ‘toys’ to play with. Instead of getting bored, curious project managers have an adventurous life.
I encourage you to develop your curiosity and suggest you some steps to follow:
- Keep open-minded. This is essential if you are to have a curious mind. Be open to learn, unlearn, and relearn from any project stakeholder in the projects you manage. Some things you know and believe might be wrong, and you should be prepared to accept this possibility and change your mind. Remember you are not superman/women.
- Don’t take things as granted. When you just accept your project as it is without trying to dig deeper, you will certainly lose the ‘holy curiosity’. Never take things as granted. Try to dig deeper beneath the surface of what is around you.
- 3. Ask questions relentlessly. A sure way to dig deeper beneath the surface is asking questions: What is that? Why did you do it that way? When did you do? Who invented it? Where does it come from? How does it work? What, why, when, who, where, and how are the best friends of curious people.
- Don’t label something as boring: Whenever you label a project as boring, you close one more door of possibilities. Curious project managers are unlikely to call something as boring. Instead, they always see it as a door, opened to new possibilities. Even if they do not yet have time to explore it, they will leave the door open to visit another time.
- See learning as something fun: If you see learning as a burden, there’s no way you will want to dig deeper into anything. That will just make the burden heavier. If you think of learning as something fun, you will naturally want to dig deeper. So look at life through the glasses of fun and excitement and enjoy the learning process.
- Read diverse kinds of reading: Do not spend too much time on just one world. Look at other worlds. It will introduce you to the possibilities and excitement of the other worlds, which may spark your interest to explore them further. One easy way to do this is through reading diverse kinds of reading. Do not read about project management only. Enrich your personal world. Try to pick a book or magazine on a new subject and let it feed your mind with the excitement of a new world.
Alfonso Bucero, MSc, PMP, PMI-RMP, PfMP, PMI Fellow