Project managers should be able to move effortlessly between specific details and the macro concepts on their projects.
Without a comprehensive understanding of project details, project managers will find it difficult to resolve complex problems. Without an understanding of high level objectives, it will be almost impossible to make decisions and correctly prioritize activities. This is why project managers need to be comfortable operating at different levels of detail dependent on the situation they are involved in.
Being able to see the big picture is an important part of a project manager’s role. Not only does this help them anticipate problems and be proactive, but it also helps them put issues into perspective to make correct decisions. Some project managers having difficulty getting out of the “weeds” since many started their careers in detail oriented roles such as business analysts or software developers. Even worse, it’s often all too easy for them to fall back into their “comfort zone” and get caught up in their particular area of expertise to the detriment of the wider project.
Similarly, a project manager that is only comfortable with high level concepts will quickly become ineffective. The resolution of complex problems is a daily challenge on most projects. However, the project manager is in a unique position to pull together detailed information from across the project to facilitate the resolution of these problems if they are willing to get into the details. It is this broad but deep knowledge that makes a project manager critical to the success of the project.
A key distinction to remember is that although the project manager may need to understand the detail, this does not mean that she/he actually does this work. This should be left to the appropriate resource on the project. Similarly, a project manager needs to understand the strategic objectives of a project but they do not need to be involved in making those strategic decisions for the organization.
The Intellilink Team