I’m a “color” person. In clothing and design elements, I choose energizing hues in green, orange, and blue families. But I can’t argue with the stabilizing and grounding effect charcoal and black have. Those shades can make almost anything else “work.”
The mix of versatility and utility is why I associate the color black to project management, a skill set I think B2B marketers will increasingly need in the next few years.
Necessary. Practical. Foundational. Project Management
Project management provides important frameworks to grease the skids for campaigns, teams, and whole organizations to achieve success. The rise of virtual companies, distributed teams, and flex scheduling will make efficient workflows and clear communication more necessary than ever.
Nearly Everything Is A Project That Needs Managing
Think an IPO happens without someone managing the milestones, stakeholders, and moving parts? Nope.That helpful eBook, webinar, or microsite you just took in is also courtesy of someone managing (and pivoting around) all the thorny logistics and details, including:
- Championing strategy and objective, continually asking if things are on target
- Determining timelines, helping surface requirements and success metrics
- Establishing roles, personnel resources, and budgets
- Maintaining awareness of progress to goal and controlling feedback loops
- Assessing risks
- Leading triage when timelines or personnel go awry (and they will)
- Collaborating with Production to see that execution goes off just so
- Spearheading collaborative postmortem assessments to feed into the next thing
- Dealing with drama, foul-ups, unforeseen snags
Glamorous? Sexy? No, but as suggested in the book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution, extraordinary results (which are indeed sexy and powerful, in a manner of speaking) are achievable when we place more focus on the execution of things. The best B2B marketers of tomorrow will be good with organizing people and resources, solution-minded, and know how to communicate requirements and feedback to improve project outcomes.
I’m A Strategist! Sort Of
In our MBA, startup, bootstrapped world, nearly everyone wants to be a Strategist of some fashion. Social Media Strategist, Content Strategist, Innovation Strategist, Growth Strategist, and, well, you get the picture. That little S-word in our title means achievement and stature, right? We get to tell people what to do, rather than do it all. Well sure as some of those roles are legitimately focused on the long haul, big direction things, some “strategist” titles are really more of an aspirational reach.
While there may be little glory in the tactics of things, BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goals) are a lot of hot air without the goal-oriented folks whose minds who can reverse-engineer world domination (or the rebranding project or new product launch, for the less dramatic of you readers) back to the stages, steps, people, and inputs necessary to get there from here.
B2B Marketing Ideas Need Details To Survive
Ideas and bold strategies need specific, realistic, well-considered tactics to be actionable. I’ve been part of countless marketing meetings where executive leadership tossed about big, cool things we should do, things that were exciting and fun. Sometimes those proclamations are paralytic rather than inspiring. Vague pronouncements asserting “We should do ___!” don’t set B2B marketers on a course of action. Instead, minds scramble to figure out how the hell to pull a rabbit out of a hat.
Some sweeping strategic ideas may, on a theoretical level, move business forward, gain mindshare or spike a short-term sales increase or clever acquisition. Other big ideas prove implausible given the practical realities of budget, time limitations, external factors (the law, missing critical skills, proprietary systems, customs, availability of raw materials and even shipping snags from China), or your own business model flaws. But “idea people” are seldom open to hearing their clever notions won’t work. They know little of how to carry projects out from whiteboard to launch. Moreover, few are wired (or are self-aware enough) to care.
Project Managers Should Have A Seat At The Big Kids Table
How do we temper broad idea-itis with the voice of experience, reason, and logic? How can we make the dreaded brainstorming meeting productive, rather than another tail-chasing session?
The distance between ideas and viability beg for a project manager to be part of every significant planning meeting. Sure, certain meetings seem fitting for key executives and department heads exclusively. But if the heart of the matter is to make stuff happen, learn, and make more improved stuff happen, isn’t it obvious how a goal-oriented person can help? By including a project manager from the start, companies can save time and resources as well as be more nimble.
It may require a shift in attitude and cultural thinking, but companies can (should!) raise the value perception of project management while also being more inclusive.
With Marketing Strategy Evolving, More Project Management Ahead
The notion of sharing the discussion table with project managers shouldn’t feel radical. You only have to look at work trends to understand how virtual companies, distributed teams, and flex scheduling will impact organizational culture, talent management, internal processes, the tools workers use, and even our methods for bringing products to market. Each day, our father’s work day looks less and less like our own.
So project managers, wear your chic black suit or dress with verve. Your style? It’s timeless.