What’s the difference between teams that do decent work and teams that do amazing work? It’s not the start of a bad joke. It’s a serious question — and seeing as we’re in the business of helping teams to work together beautifully, we made it our mission to find out. We looked at ordinary teams — the kind of teams that get work done because they know they have to — and thought about how they do things. Then we looked at high-performing teams — the kind of teams that get work done because they want to make an impact on their organization — and thought about how they do things. The differentiator, we found, wasn’t in the people, or even in the tools. It was in the way that work was managed. Great project management should enable every team member to keep their eyes on the big picture. We call this: big picture project management. We think it’s a big deal. That’s why we wrote about the six principles of big picture project management that any team can — and should — learn from. The most important takeaway for us? You don’t need project management software to do it.
What makes a high-performing team?
The best project managers in the world can run complex projects with nothing more than a pen and paper. And likewise, the best project management software in the world can’t fix underlying problems in your strategy. So if you’re going to use project management software, its job should be to complement the way you work, not control it. It shouldn’t force you into working in some specific methodology or framework. You shouldn’t have to use boards when you want to use lists, for example. And you shouldn’t have to spend time managing a tool when you could be using that time to manage your team. What it really comes down to is teamwork (lowercase t). You need to foster the kind of team that communicates openly to solve problems, not just to cover their asses. The kind of team that knows that they’re responsible for delivering the whole project, not just one small slice of it — and that feels empowered to act when they see something that needs improvement. The kind of team that doesn’t get bogged down in tasks and timings, but stays focused on achieving the overall desired outcome. Software can’t do any of that for you. But it can support you and your team to do it better. The right tool can build communication, transparency, accountability, and context into every part of your workflow. And it can take care of the everyday details so your team can reclaim that time and use it more productively. But what you do with all of that? That’s up to you and your team. Because you manage the project. Software is just here to help.
Want to learn more about big picture project management, and the six principles you need to understand to do it right? Read our interactive guide — and let us know what you think in the comments below.