Why Creatives Need Project Management

2016-2017 Issue 1

Team succes. photo young business crew

Turning a vision into reality is no small feat. Creative professionals know this challenge well, yet project management is more often associated with technical fields, such as engineering, business and IT. Not just for type A personalities, project management skills can give decision-making power to a diversity of potential leaders.

Artist and creatives already have an understanding of project lifecycles. Their experience in navigating unknowns and working with concepts and ideas can lend itself equally well to the field of project management.

Why make the switch? More say in the direction of creative projects is one benefit. “Big strategic decisions are [often] already made before you get into the project,” says Cheryl Catterall, director of blu[e]space, a project management and experience design business. “As a creative, in order to have input, you have to migrate to a project management role.”

Catterall’s background in architecture and theatre production already lent itself well to project management, but coursework at the McGill School of Continuing Studies made the switch smoother. “I think that when I first went into the [project management] class I thought I was going to be taught tools and guidelines,” she explains. “What surprised me the most was it being all about grey zones.”

Instead of strict guidelines, methods for managing change and alternative routes are important in creative project management. Interpersonal skills are also essential. To move from plan A to plan B or C, a solid understanding of what a client values is required.

Trusting in your team is also vital to navigating potential roadblocks. “If they have ownership, they’ll take initiative so you don’t have to micromanage as much,” suggests Catterall. “Then you can concentrate on the problematic areas.”

One common fear is removal from the creative process. However, managing the process can bring great satisfaction. “When you’ve delivered something, the client and team are happy, and you are on budget and on time – that’s a great feeling,” says Catterall.

Project management is a dynamic field that demands ingenuity, rather than rigid thinking. Building your project management skills could make you a creative powerhouse!

This article was originally published in French in 24heures Montreal.

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