I’ve written over 40 books, but curiously, I have never actually written any about what I actually do for a living. I did write one novel, “Best Judgment”, which was about business and used many stories and jokes I have picked up over the years, but I’ve never sat down and actually written about the day to day work I do.
I’ve had ideas for it, but nothing ever came from those.
However, a couple of weeks ago I was stricken with an affliction of inspiration. An idea completely clicked in my head, and a book outline fell into place in mere minutes.
The idea comes from something I’ve been playing around with at work lately. Technically, I’m a project manager. However, in many circumstances, a project manager is a very administrative person. They create and manage work plans, manage lists of risk and issues, and act (as I call it) as a professional nag. Get that done yet? When will you have it done? How’s it going?
Over the last few months, I’d really reformed the notion of project management into the idea of project leadership. That label isn’t new: my last company used it to group project and program management together, although I’m not sure anything more was meant by it.
My contribution to it was to define project leadership as something more than project management. If you just want an administrator for your project, you probably don’t want (or need) someone with the experience of myself or most of my colleagues. If you want someone who will own the activities to deliver a project, and actually care about what the project outcome, then you want a project leader.
I’ve written some slideware on the topic for a couple of presentations, but I’ve still been noodling over what else to do with it. I’d like to develop the concept within the firm I work with, defining the work we do as project leadership. That should help drive the model of how we hire people and how we approach our work. Still, this was not yet an inspiration.
Then the inspiration hit. I’d write it as a book (not a PowerPoint deck), and I could encompass a lot of my own experiences and theories into it. I’ve since leapt into that and have written roughly half of it so far (5 out of 12 chapters drafted, about 22000 words).
Of course, this will fall very much in the zone of a business self-help book, a category about which I am notably snarky. Hopefully I’m being realistic about my snark when I write this. That will also be the big test. I’m planning to give draft copies of this to some colleagues, and that’s when you ask the big question: I’ve just spent all this time to write a book; now, is it going to be interesting to anyone?
In my dreams, this helps launch a new phase of my career. I’m not quite ready to set off as a Stephen Covey-like career as a public speaker. Maybe I could do it in a small way.
My day dreams quickly founder on the rocks of a sad reality in the business self-help industry. I need a catchy name. Something inspirational, something pithy. Something that gets right to the point.
My wife pointed out that I also need a self-assessment questionnaire. All the best books have those. I’m still thinking about that.
Back to the name. The working title of my book has been “Old Wombat’s Guide to Project Leadership”, which is boring and distractingly quirky at the same time. I’ve put together several other books under my personal brand of Old Wombat’s (“Old Wombat’s Concise History of the World” and “Old Wombat’s Law for Junior Wombats”) but I wasn’t necessarily putting my professional identity behind those books. Another name is absolutely critical.
Luckily, on Friday night I went to a rock concert. We saw Guster at the Riviera Theater. I can’t even remember what song they were playing, but one word suddenly jumped out at me: believe.
I reached my catchy name in a moment: Project Believer. It fits completely. A major part of my ideas around project leadership is essentially a matter of positive attitude, constructive contributions, and so on. You have the believe in the project you’re working on.
I haven’t decided how to completely work this in, yet. I’m not sure I want to replace “project leader” everywhere it appears in the 100 pages I’ve written so far. I might just talk about project leadership as a step towards being a Project Believer.
Anyway, there it is – the affliction of inspiration leading to “Project Leader to Project Believer”! Coming to online bookstores and project management seminars soon!