Tag Archives: angry

Appropriating Project Management Culture

I’ve always loved project management. Planning, execution, control, these are all things I’m very passionate about. I remember when I was just a wee lass, sitting on my father’s knee, working on Gantt charts together. I’d plan out everything from the building of Lego structures to breaking down how I’d spend my time at the park each weekend. Such good memories.

As I grew up, my passion for project management only grew. I read the PM body of knowledge guide yearly, tracked down all the articles I could as the Internet became a source of information. I wasn’t just a fan of one particular methodology – waterfall, agile, process-based… I did them all. I took all the PM-related business courses, got all the certifications I could. Now I stand here, a proud, lifelong project manager, working among people just like myself.

But something’s been happening. Something terrible. Outsiders are infiltrating my field.

The other day I met a woman at a project management conference. I only had to glance at her to know that she was new to this, she didn’t grow up immersed in the culture like I did. When I asked she couldn’t even tell me the date the first project management software was released. Maybe she should spend less time perfecting her winged eye-liner and overall presentation and more time learning important facts like these. I walked away then, as she clearly had nothing of use to say and wasn’t worth my time.

The next week, after meticulously researching her background, finding her on professional networks and asking other project managers about her, my worst fears were confirmed. She was new to this. She didn’t go to school for project management – she had a psychology degree! She also had other interests – reading, cooking, rock climbing, video games. How she has the nerve to call herself a project manager when she spends so much time on other, less schedule-driven, pursuits is beyond me.

How did she get here? From talking to people who know her, it seems she had started at an inferior position, then because people “enjoyed working with her” and “found her to be very competent and organized” some people started calling her a PM. I can only assume these phrases are euphemisms. Yeah, she “communicates well,” I’m sure. Hmph.

The thought of this woman, this FAKER, calling herself a project manager was bad enough, but I soon found out it was even worse than I expected. Over the last couple years she had managed (if you can call it that) a number of projects, for which she received financial compensation. She was paid! She doesn’t love project management, she isn’t a fan, she’s doing this for money! My stomach churns at the thought of hapless corporations handing over their hard-earned money to this phony, being taken advantage of, dazzled by her smart business suits and exceptional cheekbones. I don’t care if the project stakeholders are satisfied, if people are choosing to work with this wretched woman. She’s no project manager, and I’m sick of people like her using this thing that I love for their own personal gain.

This can’t be allowed to stand. I’m going to tell the world.

It’s Not Personal

Why do people take things so personally? Why are comments made by others internalized and dwelled on? Why do they cause some people to lash out? So much of the hubbub that’s taken place in the gaming community over the past months can be blamed on people just taking things so damn personally.

Why do we do this?

From LookHuman.com

From LookHuman.com

From a psychological standpoint, it’s because humans are egocentric animals. Some more than others. We think the world revolves around us. We think that what we deem good, worthy, or correct, should be that way for everyone. We like to be right. When someone else’s viewpoint or experience doesn’t line up with ours, they are wrong. They have some bias they aren’t overcoming, some emotional issue, some intellectual dishonesty. What’s important to me should be important to everyone. What I don’t care about or know about should be ignored.

Egocentrism (and maybe narcissism) turns Carolyn Petit’s otherwise glowing review of GTAV that docked it a single point for sexism and character inconsistencies into an outright attack on the people who love the game. Well, I loved this game and had no issues with it at all and if you disagree with me, the problem is you and you should never review a game again.

Egocentrism is what makes a person read an article suggesting that the small segment of the most negative and immature gamers, the outdated stereotype of a gamer, doesn’t need to be the audience that gets catered to; and take away the message that ALL gamers are fucking terrible people. That they are under attack. They think Leigh Alexander, a gamer herself, is not advocating for more and better gaming with a broader audience, she’s calling them an asshole. Prime example of egocentrism and likely an unhealthy dose of insecurity and lack of reading comprehension.

Those same things are the reason why someone can watch a series of clips taken directly from games and listen to Anita Sarkeesian say something like “…game creators aren’t necessarily all sitting around twirling their nefarious looking mustaches while consciously trying to figure out how to best misrepresent women as part of some grand conspiracy. Most probably just haven’t given much thought to the underlying messages their games are sending… engaging with these games is not going to magically transform players into raging sexists. We typically don’t have a monkey-see monkey-do, direct cause and effect relationship with the media we consume. Cultural influence works in much more subtle and complicated ways” (source) but hear “ALL games are sexist! Game developers are sexist! If you play games YOU ARE A MISOGYNIST! Games and gamers should be DESTROYED! AAHAHAHA /wailing of banshees /cha chinging of cash registers.”

No one is immune to taking things personally. I’m not. The difference is how you act on it.

I just watched Leigh Alexander’s talk on culture and though I found the talk great, she did say a thing or two that made me bristle. Near the end of her speech she mentions the AAA games and how they may not be worthy of the praise they get. We can do better. It put my back up a little. I like AAA games, I love my XBox. Don’t talk down on the things I like or say that meaningless fun isn’t worthwhile in a game. But what did I do? I didn’t immediately send her an angry tweet or record a 10-minute YouTube rant about how she should stay the hell out of my games, she doesn’t speak for me. I kept listening. I thought critically, considered those couple of sentences that rubbed me the wrong way in the context of the rest of her speech. I realized that her having different opinions on some of the things I like is not a personal attack.

I’ve obviously spent too much time in the wrong corners of the internet lately, but it’s just depressing how many people are so quick to take opinions that have nothing to do with them so personally. And rather than taking a second to calm down, contextualize, consider “does this opinion affect my life in any way?” they get defensive, which can quickly turn into offensive vehemence.

I sort of doubt anyone who reads my blog needs this advice (at least in this context), but please, just slow down, think, and don’t take things so personally.