Balloon animals, whiteboard rolls and other creative tools are vital to keeping the project management field alive. This article will introduce some innovative ways to keep your project team together, motivated and thinking.
The act of the mind sparks imagination and that imagination is vital when it comes to project management. Project managers must constantly stay away from “mental myopia," the inability to think beyond what you see. Your abilities are enhanced by how and what you think. You must not ever let that be your limitation. How would balloon animals that thought, that imagination?
A simple exercise would be to make a balloon animal and place it on a table during a project management meeting. Blow up a few balloons and give them to project leads to get their teams to “reverse engineer" the balloon animal. The teams cannot touch the completed balloon animal, and they must work as a team. Sometimes, making them all use kazoos instead of talking will garner an even better outcome, since they cannot speak to one another and must use hand gestures or write things down (no phones or computers are used during this exercise). Do this for only about 30 minutes and have the groups hold a feedback session for about 15 minutes and then do a normal 15-minute project meeting.
What does the whiteboard roll have to do with all this? In fact, that is part of the imagination side of project management. Conference table occupants often have to turn their chairs or heads in order to follow the whiteboard. Easels are somewhat better, because you can take the paper and stick it up on the walls, but still there are still many edits that, in time, destroy the deciphering of the message.
Whiteboard rolls come in a package, some having 15 sheets. You can use these on any wall (they are static cling) and can use regular dry-erase markers on them. They are reusable and can cling onto a wall (or a conference room table) for months without losing their static cling. Think about being able to write on one of these and then placing it on the conference table for further discussion and edits. In fact, you can give each of your teams one set of five of these and they will last a lot longer than the easel sheets.
Using these white board rolls show that you have imagination as well as inspiring your team to use theirs.
Imagination and inspiration are part of what a project manager is expected to bring to the table. Examples from the PM Network magazine include one project manager who used NASA software to track Whale Sharks and another who used black plastic balls to reduce evaporation in a California reservoir.
Always use your creativity and imagination when working on projects. Look for alternative solutions, keep your “head on a swivel" and always look to inspire others. It is up to you to continue to offer your team ideas and the freedom to use their own.