The Power of Memory in Project Management

In a recent project team meeting we were reviewing an Ishikawa diagram and root cause analysis as a means to determine the next appropriate steps on an issue we were addressing as a project team when a forgotten data point was brought forward be me of all people, the project manager. What was interesting about this is the discussion that ensued over lunch later that day with several members of the team.  Someone proposed the idea that a “good” project manager is a person who possess an extrodinary memory.  A level of memory such as to prevent those critical diamonds from getting lost in the rough (or chaos of the moment), regardless if it was all documented in some team minutes or report which was filed in the appropriate folder or database. This proposal was interesting in its fundamental assertion.  We all have different means of enabling our memory.

Is memory a critical tool of the project manager?  

How can we strengthen this tool as to use it at just the right moment and need?

According to Thomas H Leahey and Richard J Harris our ability to have long term memory is based on moving the information we have proccessed from sensory memory to working memory through a means of rehearsal to effectively store it in our long term memory as facts, events and emotions.  Personally, my visual and recalled memory has been a strength as a project manager and after years of experience I continue to rehearse critical elements by writing them down in my project journal and on scraps of paper within reach. Yes I know this is old school, but this has always been the key to my memory. I am getting more modern these days as I have begun to use my iPhone notepad instead of all the scraps of paper!

Memory can be a very valuable asset as a project manager especially in those critical moments. Is this a tool in your tool chest?

– Debra Hein 



3 thoughts on “The Power of Memory in Project Management”

  1. User Avatar

    I work with so many clients who are suffering from amnesia! Yes, memory is a powerful tool in the project manager’s toolbox. We need to remember WHO the customer is, WHAT the goals and TRUE measures of success are, and WHY we are doing the project. And we need to remember the pitfalls that we encountered on the last project so we can make new and more exciting mistakes each time. – Kimberly Wiefling, Author, Scrappy Project Management

  2. User Avatar

    I can’t remember if I have a memory in my tool box, is that a problem? Seriously though, nice article it’s good to see you on the blog list.

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