What’s Your Project SuperPower?
Being the superhero fan that I am, this summer’s blockbusters are exciting and fun surges of imagination and pure exhilaration.
I’ve always admired the complexity of each character as they show the many sides of their strengths and weaknesses, whether they are operating as masked vigilantes or as their alter ego. My interests in bold heroes that save the world started at a very young age. I can still remember sitting in my first-grade class and having little Tommy (not his real name) tell me I wasn’t allowed to watch Spider-Man, Voltron or He-Man because I was a girl. Needless to say, the conversation did not end well for Tommy. I can also tell you my son has inherited this love affair with superheroes. I watch him leap off of furniture and dive fearlessly into the abyss of toys in his room as if the only thing that matters is saving his favorite toy, and I love it.
Last weekend as I came out of the newly revamped Spider-Man film, (spoiler alert) I couldn’t help but think about Peter Parkers high-school bud Ned asking to be his “Guy in the chair”. He wanted to assist him through his Spidey escapades by being his tech-ops, guiding him through his missions from some undisclosed location while Spidey fights off villains. Ned may not have Spidey’s mutant strength, but he recognized his own strength in technology and operations. He saw how he could be of value if added to the team. It reminded me of my project teams and all of the valuable traits that help to make a project successful. There are some very key skills on a project team that can prove to be project superpowers when managed well. In the spirit of this wonderful superhero summer, here are a few of the superpowers I look for when building a project team (In my own interpretation):
Let me preface this by saying that project managers are often expected to be jacks of all trades and possess many superpowers. However, the stronger your team, the stronger the project manager, and this leads to higher project success rates. Also, as project managers, we should be able to operate from a global vantage point, allowing department managers to supply the necessary intricate project details for their areas. While some projects require the project manager to be the main possessor of these traits, the below is addressing teams that are built by compiling a number of specialists or subject matter experts (SME):
This is the ability to detect danger as it begins to close in on the project. Team members who possess this power are highly vigilant and sensitive to the project environment. These project members have a heightened sensitivity to their department or project positions needs, and provide information that allows the project manager to adjust the projects control levels. Finance and accounting team members often possess this power and are able to foresee budget stress/conflicts before they hit the project.
2. Night Vision
This is the ability to see global organization needs clearly when departments are “in the dark” or unable to see their individual needs. Team members who possess this power see beyond the current state of a department/organization, and see what will help the organization in progressing and supporting the new project initiative. Information Technology (IT) team members tend to possess this power and are able to suggest technology that will support infrastructure that will grow and sustain programs.
3. Time Travel
As the title sounds, this is the ability to travel back in time (I have yet to find a team member who can travel to the future and tell us the outcome). Team members who possess this power have been in the organization for a number of years and have a great understanding of culture, leadership and previous projects. All of which is extremely valuable to any current project. They bring an immense amount of knowledge, skepticism (not always a bad thing), experience and often persuasion as well.
This ability in the project world isn’t about mind control, but rather the ability to assist in marketing the project with leadership and amongst the team. These team members rally behind the project and bring enthusiasm, passion and positivity. This is a valuable power because let’s face it, projects often bring change, and change is rarely easy to execute.
5. Super Strength
This is the ability to devote large quantities of time and multiple talents to the project. Team members who possess this power are skilled in many areas and can step up during times of project duress, or when other team members are pulled away from the project due to multiple conflicting project responsibilities. They can be thought of as “floaters” at times because they can be placed in many positions on the team and have the skills and strength to perform at a very high level.
The above of course is not an exhaustive list of project superpowers, but they are great ones to keep in mind when building your team. What’s your project superpower?