Project Management Fun

How many project managers does it take to change a light bulb?

A better question to ask is perhaps ‘how many project managers does it take to have a good project?’

I think just the one, if they have a real sense of humour and an appreciation for the value of ‘fun’ in a project team.

The PM Who Smiled

Richard Branson, Virgin Group said ‘Have fun, success will follow. If you aren’t having fun, you are doing it wrong. If you feel like getting up in the morning to work on your business is a chore, then it’s time to try something else. If you are having a good time, there is a far greater chance a positive, innovative atmosphere will be nurtured… A smile and a joke can go a long way, so be quick to see the lighter side of life’.

Andrew Filev, Wrike[1] told me ‘In our recent survey on working habits, one of the questions that we asked 2,000 team members, managers, executives and business owners was, “What stimulates your efficiency at work?” Good mood was cited as the second strongest motivator of productivity, ranking higher than such serious factors as a possible reward or fear of superiors. Over 57% of respondents said that good mood is a very powerful motivator. Only a sense of responsibility received more votes.

This data seems to show that if we want to work on our projects in an efficient and stress-free way, a sense of fun, laughter and humor might be a tool no less powerful than detailed planning and helpful software, among many other things. Winston Churchill said, ‘A joke is a very serious thing’ so let’s plug in a bit of science before you dive into the world of project management humour ‘

And there is more, Alexander Kjerulf, Woohoo Inc[2] advises ‘Think about it: You will spend a third of your life at work. You’ll spend more of your waking hours at work than on anything else, including friends and family. Make those hours count. Make them enjoyable and fun. And make sure that the results that come out of those hours are worthy of your time.

And this is not soft, idealistic, naive, hippie thinking. This is about enjoying work, certainly, but it’s also about success. Because people who are happy at work do better work. When you’re happy, you are more productive, more creative, more open, more likeable and a better leader. You’re also less stressed and get sick less often.

This also means that there’s a business pay-off to happiness. In short, happy people make for successful projects and successful projects, along with all of those happy people, make happy companies which guess what? Make more money’

In my first book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ I dedicated a chapter to ‘Having Fun’ (perhaps one of the first project management books to do so?) and stated ‘You have to laugh; well I think you have to laugh. Without a little bit of fun in every project then the project world can be a dark and depressing place. Setting a professional but fun structure for your project can really be beneficial for when the problems start to rise up to challenge your plan of perfectness. And problems will inevitably arise’.

And I know as I have travelled the world and presented at many conferences and congresses that the humour that I put into my keynote presentations makes them popular, enjoyable and, as a result, it gets the message to the audience. There is nothing worse than 60 minutes of fact based detail being presented in a monotone voice without the slightest glimmer of a smile.

There is the commonly shared piece of wisdom that declares that ‘it takes more muscles to frown than to smile’? Well it is rubbish. You will hear a whole range of numbers of muscles used but the truth is that medically there is no such balance for or against the ‘smile’ but what is a universal truth was proven in a Swedish study back in 2002 that confirmed what we already knew[3] and that is people respond in kind to the facial expressions that they encounter. If it was a frown then a frown was returned, if it was a smile then it was a smile that was returned automatically. Interestingly when the subjects of the test were asked to respond to a smile with a frown, or a frown with a smile they really struggled.

So, it isn’t any easier to be a happy face rather than a grumpy face but a happy face generally engendered a whole lot of other happy faces.

And what do happy faces make? Well a lot of things it seems.

Happy, positive people tend to live longer apparently:

A number of studies have shown that happy people tend to live longer. One study looked at a group of nuns who wrote a short biographical sketch before taking their vows. At the age of 85, 90% of the nuns with ‘cheerful’ biographies were still alive compared to 54% of the least ‘cheerful’.

So be positive and you might make it to the end of that never-ending project.

Happy, positive people have the ‘bounce back’ factor:

It seems that happiness and an attitude of optimism tend to go hand in hand. Optimistic people see bad things as only temporary and good things as mostly permanent. Their positive expectation helps them see and act on opportunities faster and to overcome set-backs easier.

So be positive and you can deal with all of that [insert expletive of your choice here] that heads your way on the projects from hell[4].

Happy, positive people are better teamies:

There is also a strong link between feeling good and doing good. Studies have shown that happy people are more willing to help others, so happy people make the world a better place.

So be positive and your project team members will be all the better for it.

Happy, positive people feel pretty good about it all:

Let’s face it, we all get a good feeling when we feel positive and upbeat, it is infectious isn’t it? The better that we feel the more we achieve and get on with others and, as a direct result, we feel even more positive as a result.

Linked to that if we choose work that we like to do and that is meaningful to us, and that is challenging as well, it can generate those peak moments of enjoyment.

So be positive and enjoy your chosen profession of project management.

And, as I say in ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, the right sort of ‘fun’ project environment can be good for you as well, ‘Done right you will have set the acceptable parameters for fun in your project, both in content and in extent, and you will have engendered that spirit amongst your project team to the point where, one day, when you are the one on a low, they will make come up and make you smile.’

Be Happy – Have Fun!

And to celebrate the value of fun in project management I released a book called ‘The Project Manager Who Smiled’

I strongly feel that this book has to go out to all of the project teams and customers I have worked with, to all of the project managers who sent me their experiences and jokes, as well as to the project management ‘celebrities’ for their ‘PM Celebrity Gossip’ contributions.

Walt Disney said ‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible’ but, unfortunately, many project managers seem to think, or have been trained to think, that ‘It’s kind of impossible to do the fun’ when in reality I say ‘It’s kind of not possible to not do the fun when you’re trying to do the impossible, or something close to the impossible’.

In my previous ‘Lazy’ books – ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, ‘The Lazy Winner’ and ‘The Lazy Project Manager and The Project from Hell’ I have included as much ‘fun’ as I can think of (and get away with), even in ‘Leading Successful PMOs’ I gave it my best shot, but with this book the shackles are off and it is 100% humour all of the way.

I hope that you enjoy it and share it all with your project teams.

Have fun and be successful!

 

 

About the author: (Serious) Peter Taylor is a dynamic and commercially astute professional who has achieved notable success in Project Management.

His background is in project management and marketing across three major business areas over the last 28 years, with the last 8 years leading PMOs.

He is also an accomplished communicator and a professional speaker, workshop trainer and consultant, and a coach focusing on PMO/PM guidance – Experience: Creativity: Motivation. Book him for your next event or training activity.

Peter is the author of ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, The Lazy Winner’ and ‘The Lazy Project Manager and the Project from Hell’ (Infinite Ideas), as well as ‘Leading Successful PMOs’ (Gower) and ‘Project Branding’ (RMC Publications) and ‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship’ (Management Concepts).

If you would like to learn even more then Peter can be contacted for articles, training, workshops, presentations and keynotes at peter.b.taylor@btinternet.com

 

About the author: (Fun) Peter Taylor is a recovering second generation Virgo with a penchant for occasionally dressing up as a root vegetable (see The Giant Killer Carrot of Death later on) and generally getting bored when there hasn’t been a laugh or a smile within the last 60 minutes.

His hobbies include trying to appear in the background of as many tourist photos as possible without getting spotted (apologies if you have a deranged Brit leaping up in the background of one of your treasured holiday snaps) and negotiating the release of his home from the squatters that his wife refers to as ‘the children’.

Peter is also the author of ‘The Dance of the Meerkats’ (Infinite Ideas) – his attempt at a children’s book – and ‘The Lazy Blogger’ (Self-Published) – his attempt at going it alone – as well as this book ‘The PM who Smiled’ – his attempt at convincing everyone else that you just have to laugh.

 

 

[1] Andrew Filev is the founder and CEO of Wrike. You can learn more about Andrew’s views in his Project Management 2.0 blog (www.wrike.com/projectmanagement).

[2] Alexander Kjerulf is the founder of Woohoo Inc and one of the world’s leading experts on happiness at work.

[3]Actually an awful lot of these studies seem to ‘prove’ what we already know.

[4]And talking of Project from Hell – have you checked out www.theprojectfromhell.com yet?

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3 Responses to “Project Management Fun”

  1. Dan Strayer Says:

    I have this sudden feeling for packing my troubles in an old kit bag. But I’m not changing my middle name to Pollyanna just yet 🙂

    A great reminder of a post – thanks!

  2. Happiness = Fun | Stakeholder Management's Blog Says:

    […] Being in a good mood (ie, happy) doesn’t just feel good, it stimulates your efficiency at work; ‘being responsible’ ranked first, ‘happiness’ second in a survey of 2000 project people asked to vote on what encourages efficiency.  To read more of Peter’s thoughts on this subject see his latest post: Project Management Fun. […]

  3. Happiness = Fun | Mosaicproject's Blog Says:

    […] Being in a good mood (ie, happy) doesn’t just feel good, it stimulates your efficiency at work; ‘being responsible’ ranked first, ‘happiness’ second in a survey of 2000 project people asked to vote on what encourages efficiency.  To read more of Peter’s thoughts on this subject see his latest post: Project Management Fun. […]

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