Thinking Out of the Box in Project Portfolio Management

“Thinking out of the box” is such a clichéd phrase and used in almost all areas of life. But the truth is that it is among the most vital skills that a project manager and his/her team need to have in order to consistently drive creativity.

It’s true that traditional thinking tends to rely on previous experience and practiced protocols and hence give you confidence to handle issues. But when you think outside the box, you are essentially moving out a comfort zone that you’ve created for yourself. While it does involve taking risks, it also allows you to become aware of cross-functionalities.

Why Project Portfolio Management needs “Thinking Out of the Box”

Administrative skills are no doubt important for efficient project management. Project managers should have the capabilities to organize projects from the start to the finish. They need to hire the right people, build teams and plan to assign specific tasks to each person involved in the project.

Once the project kicks off, it is important for the manager to keep a track of everything and make sure that everything is getting done as per the schedule. The budget also needs to be consistently kept in mind when working on a project. Thinking out of the box additionally implies being proactive and looking out for any unexpected changes in the outside environment that might derail the project.

Innovative thinking methodologies

Below are three key innovative thinking methodologies which might help project managers think out of the box and break away from traditional managing practices.

  1. System Thinking

This is defined as a way of problem solving in which the problem is viewed as a part of the entire system. In a project, a system could consist of people, processes and structures that work in harmony and make an organization. The problem is not an isolated event or outcome nor is it specific part. If viewed in this light, it could further contribute to the development of unintentional consequences.

  1. Lateral Thinking

This refers to solving a problem via a creative and indirect approach, based on reasoning which is not very obvious. It could involve ideas which are difficult to obtain when the traditional step-by-step logic is used. Examples include Distortion, Free Association, and Reversal.

  1. Design Thinking

Design thinking is based on imagination, logic, intuition as well as systemic reasoning. Project managers who have design thinking mindsets ultimately drift away from the traditional problem-focused approaches to action-oriented solution-focused ones.

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