Old Ways Versus New Ways

While you evaluate a project, prior to starting the wheels in motion, you will want to think about your methods of carrying out and managing activities. Do you have ironclad methods or are you open to change?

When planning a major conference, one person always says, “That's the way we've always done it, so we should do it that way again.” Another person says, “Let's be open to new ideas. New people may provide us with better ways to accomplish some of our objectives.” Who's right?

They are both right. Tried-and-true methods that work should not be discarded. They have proven to be effective, and there is a low level of risk involved — they are not likely to cause the project to go off track. But, new ideas open up the potential for positive growth. Examining new methods means matching them against tried-and-true methods of the past. Do they achieve the same and more, or do they achieve less? It's hard to measure quality, but sometimes you can improve upon a job well done.

Sticking with tried-and-true methods is less risky and offers a proven track record, but the methods may be somewhat outdated and limit your creativity. Trying new methods poses greater risk because these methods are often unproven, but they often allow for more creativity and can save you time and money.

Also, new ideas may invigorate the people involved and generate renewed enthusiasm. If a team is pulled together to work on a project, and they know that it will be the same routine as the last project, they are less enthusiastic than if there are some new elements to the project. Likewise, new team members can provide creative new ideas.

It's important to learn from the past while considering the potential advantages of new methods. Projects need to utilize the hard work and results of past successes as well as take advantage of advances in technology and education. Someone who is not open to change is limiting his or her potential for a highly successful project. Conversely, someone who refuses to acknowledge the previous methods may be so steeped in new methodology that he or she forfeits what can be learned from past history and experience for the sake of technology. To find the right balance, a project manager needs to be open to both sets of ideas, old and new.

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