I didn’t think the day I would question the relevance and importance of project management would come. Yet, it did. The lead up to this existential introspective thinking were two rather innocent messages in my Inbox. Both had my attention. 

The first one was a rant blog about how project management is riddled with buzzwords and clichés.  

The issue with cliché words in Project Management 

The list of cliché words and phrases the author listed was considerable. I’m sure you’ll recognize most if not all of them: 

Walk the Talk, Low hanging fruit, Give 110%, Bring me solutions, not problems, Team player, The big picture, Take Ownership, Paradigm shift, Blue sky thinking, Think out of the box… 

The list is much longer than this but you catch my drift. 

The writer accuses project management buzzwords and clichés of ‘cheating’ and ‘being insulting to the listener’. He says that they fail to communicate and have become devoid of meaning.  

The reason why great ideas become clichés

I know what the writer is trying to say, but I don’t fully agree. I actually don’t think buzzwords are devoid of meaning. I think they have a lot of meaning. That’s how they became buzzwords in the first place. I believe we just don’t stop and consider these buzzwords after hearing them so often. 

It’s kind of ironic that the author of “Work smarter, not harder”, who the blog ranter takes aim at, uses the fact that ‘thinking is part of your job’ as one of the key ideas in his manifest. 

We just do, run, act busy, chase our tails… and fail to think about what we are really doing and how we could do it better. What’s worse is that it’s not considered productive to pause and think. If it’s not billable, it must be a waste of time and resources. 

And  another reason why clichés are causing rants

But that’s not the only reason for this blogger’s rant in my opinion. I also think that smart and innovative ideas in project management and business in general become empty and sad clichés because they are used by management as a way to giddy up the troops (they call it ‘motivational speech’), without walking the talk themselves. Management has a habit of SAYING all the right things, only to subsequently ACT in a manner that totally contradicts what they just said. I’ve seen it many times. I’m sure you have too. It definitely doesn’t motivate. It causes rants. And it makes you switch off next time the same phrase is used. 

Has Project Management become a cliché? 

Which made me think: if project management is riddled with buzzwords and clichés. Has it become a cliché and a buzzword in itself? 

Like the clichés and buzzwords we described above, project management definitely gets its fair share of attention. And like above buzzwords, there’s a very good reason for that. 

 The second Message

Which brings me to the second item in my inbox that got my attention. A colleague sent a project management word play that I thought was rather clever about when a poorly organized project starts hitting the fan. It goes like this: 

‘A little project management saves a lot of fan cleaning’. 

Avoiding to have to clean the fan

Good project management and good project management software with it puts an effective and efficient handle on a complex and unique problem. It’s innovative from a historical perspective and it’s incredibly helpful. In this day and age, it’s definitely a magic word. But the real question to answer is whether it causes an eye roll at the sheer mention of it in the same way the cliché phrases did in the rant article? The plain and simple answer to that question is NO. 

The simple reason for this is because a lot of thought goes into making project management as efficient as it can possibly be. Not the least because in this instance, there is money to be made on so many levels and by so many parties involved. Project management software is without a doubt part of this. Rather than every person and company having to reinvent the wheel (and absorb the cost that comes with that process), good customizable project management software saves you the hassle and the money. 

Still, some companies hesitate to spend the monthly fee because they also don’t appreciate the gain that is to be made from optimization of time, resources, communication, cost control, customer service and productivity in general project management software brings. 

How much thought do you put into the projects you are handling? 

So how’s that advice on fan cleaning (or the avoidance of it) coming along? How much thought do you put into complex projects and in the way you are handling them? 

Let us know what convinced your company to jump aboard the project management software ship and what the gains were?