Manolos or Dickies?

(image from niemanmarcus.com)Manolo Blahniks are designer shoes. They’re meant to be wearable works of art that are purchased and worn for the way they look, not to make your feet feel like they’re walking on clouds.

Dickies are workwear shoes. They’re meant to support the foot and be comfortable over long periods of time, not to make a fashion statement.

So what does this have to do with project management? Well, everything.

Dickies shoe; image from zappos.comIf your user is expecting Manolos and you’re managing a project and team that’s working toward Dickies, it doesn’t matter how expertly you plan, organize, and progress through the project. It won’t be successful.

Project management isn’t just about managing the project, it’s about understanding its purpose and your user’s expectations. If you’re asked to design a pair of shoes, first ask who’s going to be wearing them and what they’ll be doing in them. Provide the wearer with examples of different kinds of shoes and ask what they do or don’t like about each one. Learn what the wearer’s perfect shoe is, and why it’s perfect.

Before you take a single step executing the project, step into your user’s shoes.

You’ll save time, money, brainpower, and possibly your reputation by understanding what your user is expecting.

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