Story Telling Principals Applied to Project Management

As part of our book project ‘TurnAround – wenn Projekt Kopf stehen und klassisches Projekt Management versagt’ – www.turnaroundpm.com we have been looking for an approach, a supportive tool and structure to describe and plot a project.

The project square was invented and clusters a project in 7 building blocks

  • Mind-Set
  • Project-Charter
  • People
  • Resources
  • Target Audiences 
  • Damages
  • Benefits

Based on these building blocks every project could be described.

Project Sqaure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, no matter what project you are working on, whether its a real IT project, or you are moving places or planning your vacation.

What if some asks you, what project you are working on. What would you say and describe to answer his or her question?
Usually you are replying in an unstructured, inexplicable way.
By applying the story telling principles to the project square this challenge becomes a lot easier.

So what are the story telling principles and how could they be applied to the project square
Story telling is general based on the following key components:

  1. The Problem that I faced (with a Date)
  2. What didnt worked
  3. What worked
  4. Benefits of the solution
  5. What did I learn

How ever, Pixar’s way of story telling is based on a different approach:

  1. Once upon a time there was ….
  2. Every day …
  3. One day …
  4. Because of that …
  5. Because of that …
  6. Until finally …

The project square is the perfect structure to apply the story telling principles.

By touching and looking at every building block the major components of your story will form.
By making sure every aspect of your project is been touched and looked at you are certain that you do not miss a point that is relevant to describe which project you are working on.
It doesn’t matter where you start, which building block you mention first, which comes next and after that.
The point is that you should touch on every building block, even if it doesn’t hold any content at this point in time. mention it.

Usually a good approach and to train what I am trying to get across is to start with the project charter, the scope and time and budget involved, go into the people required and involved, touch on resources needed and the target audiences addressed. Now looking to the benefits you projects tries to deliver and the damages that may be caused. And last but not least look into the mind-set applied to the overall project.
Thats a simple and engaging way how to transform your project into an compelling story that addresses every aspect of your endeavor.

Of course there are alternative ways to start and finish. Depending on what point you are trying to get across, the building blocks that are most important for your or your audience listening yo you, you can either start or finish where you thinks its most relevant, important and required.

The approach how to present story could be based on the following approach by Peter Beck from DasScrumTeam:

  1. Be clear about your message
  2. Have a true story
  3. Prepare it well
  4. Deliver it well

Try and use the project square to get your project across as a story and apply the principles above.

Looking forward to your feedback.

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Torsten J. Koerting

Torsten J. Koerting is a project management-, paragliding- and Outdoor Enthusiast, Consultant, Author of several books and engaged as a speaker at many conferences. As Managing Partner at projectyzer he is specialised in supporting companies and organisations in reinventing their strategy as well as turning projects around that are in trouble. He worked in Europe, US and Australia for more than 20 years for global Blue Chips. He does hold the German and Australian Citizenship and lives with his wife and two kids between Europe and Australia. He is also a certified Bank Clerk, Executive Bachelor and Project Management Professional (PMI) and used to be Board Member of the PMI Queensland Chapter (Australia).

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