OK, I know we’re not all project managers by title or trade.
And I also know, that if I were to ask you, if you consider yourself to be a project manager, you’d probably say no.
But, I’d like to challenge your thinking.
........ Just a little.
Do you have a job where you interact with others?
Maybe you’re even part of a team?
Or maybe you have clients?
Do you have a family?
And maybe some of your family members have activities they go to, or that you do together?
Or, are you maybe thinking of changing something in your surroundings?
Maybe redecorating a room, or renovating, or maybe even building new or moving?
Or do you have a dream of something you’d like to do?
Write a book, share your knowledge in a speech or an online course, or take a long trip?
Then, my friend, you’re also a project manager.
The easiest way to get started on drawing, is to make it very VERY simple.
One way of doing that, is to use a visual alphabet.
Just like you would use letters to make words.
You can use basic shapes to make simple icons.
A visual alphabet to make visual words.
It's not my invention, many great visual thinkers, and teachers, have used a form of a visual alphabet to build icos from.
Here are examples from four that I am very inspired from:
You can find links to their websites at the bottom of this post.
I use these as my visual alphabet.
From these basic shapes, it's easy to build simple icons.
And with these simple icons, it's simple to visualize a process.
In the video I go through the visual alphabet, building icons and visualizing a simple process - step by step.
In my free e-book 20 icons for projects, I use the visual alphabet to build 20 icons that can be useful in a project context, and explain how to use them.
Do you know how sometimes you just KNOW something?
It's so easy for you to understand.
But when you have to explain it, it's difficult for you to put into words.
That's how I feel about visual thinking.
It's so intuitive for me.
I just know what it is.
But then, when I'm asked to explain, I have a hard time finding the right words.
This is my attempt to try and explain what Visual Thinking is.
First, I'll use someone else's words:
But ... what does that mean?
Visual Thinking = Thinking Visual = Make your thinking visual
Ok ... but visual HOW?
Get it out of your head, and make it tangible.
So you can see it, feel it, touch it, move it.
Here are a few examples:
So, basically, it's not about what it is or how it looks - but that you get what you think out of your head and make it tangible.
Like having your thoughts in your hand.
It is that simple.
So, when I combine visual thinking with project management, I use visuals as a tool to make project...
Earlier this year I was given the challenge to make a short video explaining why I'm passionate about what I do.
And I actually had to think about it.
But, once I got my thoughts together, it was easy.
So easy, that in my first try, I talked on for 10 minutes.
And that's NOT a short video.
I ended up with this video. It's unglossy, handheld, unedited (almost), and 100% me and my words.
So, if you have 6 minutes, and are curious about WHY I'm working with visual project management - then watch it here.
You can start for free!
If you haven't already downloaded my free e-book "How to draw 20 icons for projects", then do it now.
And follow it!
It's a step by step guide to start using simple drawings.
If you want more than that, then
You get immediate access to 5 mosules, released over 5 weeks, with 35 lessons, 33 videos, 30 tools to download and put into use straight away.
Read more and sign up here: Online...
Did you read my blogpost about Gene Kranz, and my excitement about the use of simple drawings in landing the lunar module on the moon in 1969?
As you may have discovered, I'm very passionate about the use of simple drawings to communicate. VERY. And I want to keep sharing just HOW SIMPLE it actually is to use drawings to make things visible, clear, and easier to create common understanding.
Now, you might think: "But my projects are all about optimizing processes", or "My projects are about producing components for industrial machines - has nothing to do with people"
When I say that projects are always about people, then it's because there are people in every aspect of the project.
What does landing the lunar module on the moon in 1969 and visual project management in 2020 have in common?
I’ll tell you later… ;)
It’s 2020 folks.
Looking at that number still makes me think of some of the futuristic fantasy movies I grew up with:
‘A Space Odyssey’ was set in 2001
‘Back To The Future’ was set in 2015
‘Blade Runner’ was set in 2019
So, we are living in the future. Or, at least the future as imagined 30-40-50 years ago.
I’m not old enough to remember the lunar landing in July 1969. And I don’t know just how ‘big of a deal’ it was when it happened. BUT, I started my 2020 supporting the conference PCMA Convening Leaders in San Francisco, and had the privilege of experiencing former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz on stage.
He took us through the toughest day of his life: The day he was responsible for making ALL the right decisions and directing the landing on the moon.
I do. A lot. As I think most of us do.
I have tried many different ways of keeping a To Do list, and have found that there are 3 key things your To Do list has to meet:
1. It has to give you an overview. It doesn't matter if the lst is just for you, or if it's for your entire team, it needs to be easy for everyone to see the tasks, who it belongs to, and when they need to be done.
2. It has to support your process. Where in your project are you? Does that impact the tasks? Maybe use stickynotes in different colours, if it's important to show what phase a task belongs to.
3. And it has to show your progress on the project. Sometimes you can get so overwhelmed with the amount of tasks on a project. Keep the tasks you have done, that's one way of showing progress.
In this videotip I show 4 different examples of To Do lists.
These are JUST 4 examples of lists that can help you and your keep track of all the tasks.
We're still in the tools department. And this is one of my big passions: STICKY NOTES.
I know it sounds crazy to claim that I love sticky notes - but I just do!
And here you have 5 reasons why:
Sticky notes are so easy to use. All you need is a pad of notes, something to write with, and somewhere to stick them. E.A.S.Y.
Sticky notes are super versatile. Move them around. Cluster. Move apart. remove. Ad new. The possibilities are many. They are easy to change. And all along the way you keep the big overview of the process.
And that's also reason number 3
They are amazing for creating an overview.
I always start any process - ANY - with a braindump. I get everything I can think of in connection to the process, down on sticky notes - one thing per note - and then I can see what I have.
And when I'm working with a group, it's the same. Get everything we know, as a collective, on sticky notes, and get a shared overview. You can see...
Welcome to Tip #1 in my series: 52 tips from The Visual Project Manager.
These tips are focused on all the things that can help you become a Visual Project Manager.
Maybe you know this already:
You should NEVER compromise on equipment.
And the best equipment is the equipment that you use. It doesn't matter what others think or what something cost. If you don't use it, it's worthless.
My main tool: Markers!
When I work with visualising, whether it's visually recording a speech at a conference or a report out at a workshop, or if I'm visually facilitating a group, I'm dependent on my markers performance.
They are my main tool, and they have to do a good job EVERY time.
In my opinion, there's no better marker, than the markers produced and sold by the German company Neuland.
Here are my reasons for using these markers:
I believe strongly that visuals can help get an overview, make fuzzy things tangible, and help us in our daily work.
This guide to drawing 20 icons for projects, is a part of my mission, to teach visual project management.
It's a simple guide, to show you just HOW EASY it it to start drawing, and integrate that, into your practice as a Project Manager.
A person is a person is a person....
The visuals don’t create meaning on their own – it’s not a rebus.
Text defines the context - the power lies in putting VISUALS & TEXT together.
The one above here could be: Man, Woman, Child, Team Member, Boss, Project Manager – or any kind of person.
Also, there isn't ONE way to visualise something. It depends on the situation, the culture, the group, and the content.
For example GOAL:
Sign up for my newsletter, and download my free e-book "How to draw 20 icons for projects", and you'll be ready to draw on your own projects in no time.