"The Power of Storytelling in Project Management: Combining Agile and Project Portfolio Management"

Aviral Vaid

Aviral Vaid

Jul 03, 2023 • 3 min read

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"The Power of Storytelling in Project Management: Combining Agile and Project Portfolio Management"

Storytelling has played a significant role in our evolution as humans. It has guided us, shaped our beliefs, and provided us with a sense of purpose. As project managers, storytelling is a skill that can greatly enhance our ability to lead and communicate effectively. In this article, we will explore the importance of storytelling in project management and how it can be combined with agile and project portfolio management for better outcomes.

Agile methodology has revolutionized the way we approach project management. Its emphasis on adaptability, collaboration, and iterative development has proven to be highly effective in the fast-paced, ever-changing business landscape. However, agile alone may not address all the challenges that project managers face. It is crucial to incorporate elements of project portfolio management to gain a holistic view of the project and mitigate potential risks.

One of the key issues with agile is the lack of upfront planning and analysis. While this allows for fluid and rapid idea generation, it can lead to a fragmented view of the project and hinder long-term strategic outcomes. By combining agile with more upstream thinking, project managers can define the problem, analyze root causes, and create a sense of direction. This can be achieved by articulating ideas in more detail and linking them to strategic outcomes.

To ensure a comprehensive understanding of the project, it is beneficial to separate the long-term roadmap from the agile framework. While tools like Jira are excellent for agile project management, they may not provide a clear program of work in the long term. Creating a separate roadmap with a defined program of work, including value metrics tracking, can help align the project with the overall strategic objectives. Additionally, incorporating Gantt charts can provide a visual representation of the project timeline and dependencies.

Now, let's explore the connection between storytelling and project management. Storytelling is a powerful tool that can engage stakeholders, communicate project goals, and inspire action. By incorporating storytelling techniques into project management, project managers can effectively convey the project's purpose, engage team members, and align everyone around a common vision.

One actionable advice for improving storytelling skills as a project manager is to create a compelling narrative around the project. Start by identifying the main characters (stakeholders, team members, customers) and their roles in the story. Then, frame the project as a journey, highlighting the challenges, successes, and lessons learned along the way. This narrative approach helps create an emotional connection with the project, making it more relatable and memorable.

Another actionable advice is to use visual aids to enhance storytelling. Humans are visual beings, and incorporating visuals such as infographics, diagrams, or even simple sketches can significantly improve the impact of your message. Visual aids help simplify complex information, make it easier to understand, and leave a lasting impression on the audience.

Lastly, practice active listening and empathy to become a better storyteller. As a project manager, it is essential to understand the needs, motivations, and concerns of your stakeholders and team members. By actively listening and empathizing with their perspectives, you can tailor your storytelling approach to resonate with their emotions and experiences. This creates a deeper connection and fosters a sense of trust and collaboration.

In conclusion, storytelling is a powerful tool that can greatly enhance project management. By combining elements of agile and project portfolio management, project managers can create a holistic view of the project, align it with strategic objectives, and mitigate risks. Additionally, incorporating storytelling techniques into project management can engage stakeholders, communicate project goals, and inspire action. By creating a compelling narrative, using visual aids, and practicing active listening and empathy, project managers can improve their storytelling skills and drive successful project outcomes.

Resource:

  1. "“How Do I Improve My Storytelling Skills as a PM?”", https://medium.com/@zanelisa15/how-do-i-improve-my-storytelling-skills-as-a-pm-c9a5f1b5c7aa (Glasp)
  2. "(12) Combining Agile and Project Portfolio Management - Hybrid Agile | LinkedIn", https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/agile-project-portfolio-management-manifesto-jean-dieudonne/ (Glasp)

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