How Science Will Make You a Better Project Manager

Alright, project managers. It’s time to brush off your elementary school textbooks and up your PM game today.

My ten-year-old daughter recently received a birthday present consisting of 10 unique science experiments we could do in our very own home.

(A note to the gift giver: “Thank you so much! I just LOVE presents that are for both the child AND their parents!”)

Sarcasm aside, it has been both fun and a good conversation starter for us to discuss new topics. I’ve had to recall knowledge gained many years ago and locked away in the file cabinet named “You are a business major – this is the science stuff – move along – nothing to see here”.

I bet many of you have a similarly named cabinet. The one only accessible for the surprising answer to a trivia night question.

As we began doing the experiments I came to a startling discovery; I use the scientific method. A LOT.

Chances are, you do too.

Don’t believe me? (I sense your skepticism from here.)

OK, let’s break out that folder, blow the dust off, and take a look. What exactly was that scientific method again?

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Form a hypothesis
  3. Test the hypothesis by conducting an experiment
  4. Analyze the data
  5. Communicate the results

I could write one thousand examples of how I use that method in my job as a product manager every day. But,let’s take a look at the following  generic example.

“Our customer base is frustrated by X. I think Y will fix it. Let’s send out a survey to see if they agree. Yes, these survey results Z show they agree with me. Our development team is going to prioritize enhancement Y to fix problem X and our survey results Z support our actions. Next year we will send out another survey to see how happy they are with the provided solution and see if we hit the mark.”

See the pattern here?

There’s just no way around it. I think I may be a business scientist. You know what, though? I don’t think I’m alone. Many of my friends within the Facilities Management community are following this exact process every day.

As facilities professional and project manager, you are presented with a problem and it’s your job to come up with a solution. You form a hypothesis based upon the best information available, make an adjustment (management decision), and test that hypothesis by analyzing credible data on the back end. Finally, we communicate the level of success we have achieved through our changes and decide if further action is required.

You see? You are a scientist and didn’t even realize it!

Now as a product manager I can’t help but focus on two key parts in that previous paragraph.

There are two questions you should ask yourself as the newly recognized scientist you are:

  1. Is your IWMS solution providing the information you need to make immediate, informed decisions and after having made those decisions, do you have the ability to analyze the effects of your actions?
  2. Can you prove your decisions have made the impact you were hoping for?

See there? Your work is a science. Maybe you don’t suit up in a lab coat and goggles, and maybe you haven’t touched a beaker or bunsen burner since high school, but you still apply scientific concepts to your job every day.

Keep looking to data to make informed decisions, and you’ll find an A+ on your facilities management report card.

About Glenn: I’m a software product manager for AssetWorks, specializing in Capital Planning, Project Management, and Facilities Condition Assessment. I received my Management of Information Systems degree from Auburn University after a six-year enlistment in the Navy. My twenty-year career as an enterprise system manager working exclusively with maintenance, design, and construction personnel earned my spot on the AssetWorks team in January of 2013. A persevering golfer and committed Tiger fan, I reside in Auburn, Alabama with my wife, Dr. Jennifer Wood Adams, and our two daughters, Harper Elizabeth, and Spencer Caroline.

Photo credit: Amy (Creative Commons)

2018-01-19T16:34:04-05:00Tags: |