#0. Why study management?
I'm going to start a series of articles on project management with this question.
The fact is, we spend most of our time – often unconsciously – on creating or improving new processes, procedures, and rules for ourselves. Let's spell it out:
Habitually, all the time, we're doing daily actions that are blindingly obvious, so we don't even give it a thought. After all, what's the point of inventing some scientific name for a thing which is so obvious? Arguably, if we "over-think" these obvious things, then we complicate them. True, but nevertheless... ☺
Let's say it is morning and you woke up, washed, brushed your teeth, got dressed, and called a taxi to go to work. Pretty basic, huh? And yet, if you stop for a moment to analyze why, how, and in what order you did all that, you might notice some hidden rules: little tricks that you invented, probably unconsciously, to save time or improve results. You always hang the towel in the same place; you always put the toothbrush back in the stand. And if by chance you were in a hurry and left something out of place, this will grate on you the next day, and you'll irritatedly put things back in order. Basically, we have our rules and set habits, which help to smooth the running of our lives. The towel and the toothbrush each have their place, and for a good reason too: we return to them each morning on autopilot, not having to waste our efforts searching for them. Thus, we are free to focus our mind and memory on more "important" things.
And so, your morning routine continues time to get dressed and call a taxi. Do you spend a lot of time getting dressed? Do you, as a matter of course, choose in the evening what you're going to wear the next morning? When do you call the taxi – before you start to dress or after? Any difference? And if you're not going to work, but to the institute instead, have you timed your morning schedule to be at the bus stop no later than 8.35, so that you get to the institute on time?
We all have our answers to these questions and thousands of others, but the answers are only there because we've done the analysis. We know what influences these trivial choices. We set our priorities, and each of us has his/her internal "rules" concerning how we will react to force majeure situations (e.g., oversleeping, illness), and how our schedule will change as a result. In short, we have algorithms, ready-made for each case, and dictating our behavior according to the circumstances. These algorithms enable us to quickly, effortlessly react to each situation, and each interaction with the world around us, altering our behavior accordingly.
So if we look carefully at all these automated daily actions that we perform without thinking about which is "important" and which isn't, we can learn a lot of exciting things about ourselves. We can call it introspection, or self-knowledge, whatever.
The bottom line is that we are, basically, just a myriad of principles, rules, and algorithms. It could sound "soulless" or "weird" however, even the mechanism that enables you to see "soullessness" in this definition is simply another rule which you follow in your consciousness (i.e., the principles, or morals which, for whatever reason, you consider important enough to follow). It is an axiom; our world is entirely indifferent to what we think, but clear rules define our behavior in society, formed in the socio-cultural environment in which we grew up. However, gradually, through understanding these rules more and more, we learn to adjust and improve them by what we find more "comfortable."
In short, all those mental processes that take place in us and which, as a result, shape our behavior are completely obvious to us, even if we are unaware of them.
Now let's speak about the "complexity of life."
Of course, we all have essential short-term and long-term goals, and so we also have daily actions that we think will move us in the right direction. What happens next? Well, probably, since we have goals, then we imagine when we will reached them. But could we reach them earlier? Maybe we could also improve the "quality" of our path so that, as we move towards these goals, we'll get more pleasure along the journey as well as at the finish? Maybe it makes sense to come up with new, intermediate goals so that our path becomes more exciting and useful?
To understand how to do this, we need to think more about our actions. Starting from the most trivial and ending with work-related activities, we can "take control" of everything that happens and ... optimize. A daily routine can be optimized so that you do not have to think about it anymore. Some trivial tasks can be optimized to complete them faster. For work and study, you can delineate a set of rules, to have time for both, and at the same time also save time for your private life. To do this, you just need to take the first step: to develop the habit of thinking about your actions much more than usual, regardless of how "obvious" they seem to you.
And what if you leave everything as it is and live without analyzing the details? That's also an option. The less you realize what is happening inside yourself, the less you are responsible for your life. You can live with this approach all your life, but you will find this limits you to the same situations all the time, and the same circle of friends who, like you, decide to live without thinking. You will be stuck for years, doing things the same way, until one day – and this will undoubtedly happen – you will say, "but everything could have been better!" (Drama, more drama here :) ). New situations will appear in the chaos of your life, and forcefully "grind" your nature, your behavior, your attitude to and perception of the world and people in general. Thus, you first of all have to understand whether you want to change yourself on your terms, or whether you want life to do it for you, in which case you will be the unknown result of a series of careless actions.
This blog, and the chapters below, are explicitly intended for those of you who are not scared of thinking, and who prefer not to leave things to chance.
But what's the link between all these philosophical musings and management? It's simple.
Management is a science that studies the management of human and capital resources. In our personal lives, we manage our intellectual and material resources every day; moreover, we live in a specific, time-bound frame. Individuals are engaged in management as much as any organization, and the only difference between us is the extent to which we are aware of it: how much we influence our thoughts and behavior.
We determine which words we should use and in what order when approaching specific people to obtain their consent or approval. It is this conscious approach to life that enables us to enjoy life without worrying about the significant number of questions that hang over us at certain stages of our life.
Let's return to the question of this article.
Why study management?
Because we, mostly, are a colossal management machine that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By studying management, we can find new ways of solving a variety of tasks and working under the influence of managers, and we can develop infinitely.
As for this blog, the articles that I have posted here are about the management of IT-projects related to software development.
Since the style of the following articles is quite simple (much more straightforward than this introduction :) ), I recommend everyone to read them, because IT is the world's most dynamic sphere, in which new tasks and challenges regularly arise, and the solutions are no less specific. In these articles, you will see a wide range of approaches to problem-solving, and the attentive reader will be able to adapt this knowledge. If, however, you only read this introductory article, then the main message which I want to get across is that since we are humans, our range of processes and rules can be infinitely improved. Just don't be afraid to think, and be extremely honest and frank with yourself.