I’m on my way to a meeting – the first of many this week, about Somerstown Stories. It’s another one of those ‘behind-the-scenes’ meetings. Important – necessary in fact, if we want the project to run smoothly and be a success, although it can sometimes feel like I’m spending more time ‘meeting’ than ‘doing’.
It occurred to me that project management is rather like an iceberg: 75% of the work is below the surface, unseen. And yet projects are so often rated or valued on the 25% that’s visible above the water, which is a shame, because the work that goes into making something a success is very often disproportionate to the event itself.
‘But how is an iceberg like a cake, and what’s that got to do with project management?’ I hear you ask.
Well, in my mind sometimes the best bit of the project is the ‘people’ bit. The time spent with real people in real communities, sharing stories and experiences, trying and learning new things together. That’s the ‘visible’ bit. The 25% above the water. Or, if you prefer, the icing on the cake.
Now, you need the cake: you need the substance, the infrastructure, the planning and resources to enable the project to come together…and some of the greatest achievements of you and the people you’re working with will happen during that ‘cake’ period…and probably only a few people will realise or appreciate just how much work has been done and what’s been accomplished.
But I’m still inclined to think that the icing bit is best because that’s the part where we get to see if all our hard work has paid off, and that’s the place where our dreams become reality.
Working with real people in real communities isn’t easy. But it is very valuable, and cake without icing would be a bit dull – don’t you think?