Tuesday, April 17, 2007


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Seems like every time I turned around today, I was reminded of the close tie between the role of the Project Manager and that of the Architect. Not just the obvious and important relationship and dependencies between these roles in project work, but also the similarity in characteristics of the roles themselves.

In fact, as I think about it, I'm inclined to distill it down to a single characteristic that is universally present in the most effective practitioners of these distinct disciplines. When I think about the "A-Team" of Project Managers and Architects I've been fortunate enough to work with over the last couple decades, and consider the brilliant successes I've witnessed from each of them, a common theme seems to percolate. Example after example come to mind where vast confusion, ambiguity, and amorphous objectives were quickly digested, translated, and modeled in some way as to bring clarity, structure, and focus to the masses. In order to rapidly coalesce information into a meaningful form, these capable folks routinely recognize the patterns, consistencies, relationships, and key/distinct characteristics of the topic at hand and almost instinctively harvest the true essence of the concern.

In their book "Now Discover Your Strengths", Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton call this the Strategic strength and describe it this way... "People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues." (http://www.amazon.com/Discover-Your-Strengths-Marcus-Buckingham/dp/0743201140)

Whether Project Manager or Architect (each with their individual interests and scope of influence), people who can "quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues" are frequently the key difference between glowing success and less favorable results - in the most extreme cases, project failure. I make it a point to surround myself with a good dose of "Strategic" people.

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