Juxtaposition

filmjuxta

We have always asserted that vocabulary is particularly important for project managers.  Why?  Glad you asked.

It’s because we end up overseeing – coordinating – animating – conducting work in which we are not necessarily the leading expert.  What that means is that we must know the SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) to seek out to be able to run our projects properly.  And to do that well, we need to be able to gain their trust and confidence and of course we need to be able to ‘talk the talk’ of the particular practice area, even if we are not the experts ourselves.

So yes, we hope you agree that for our discipline of Project Management, vocabulary is important.

And today we want to focus on a word not used every day (other than perhaps in the film industry): juxtaposition.

Here is the Dictionary.com definition:

jux·ta·po·si·tion

[juhk-stuh-puhzishuhn] 

noun

1. an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.
2. the state of being close together or side by side.

OK, great, you (may have) taught me a new word, EarthPM, but what the (bleeeeep)* does it have to do with Project Management or Sustainability?  Or are you going to again tell us that it has to do with both?

Well, yes, of course we are.

Have a look at this clip from the just released PM Network magazine:

PMNetworkaugust2013

The articles shown are both interesting and we recommend that you read PM Network.  As a PMI member, the magazine is free and it’s a tremendous resource.

But now, finally, to our point.

The two articles are juxtaposed perfectly – PERFECTLY – to make our ongoing points.  Start with the article on the left, “ANCHORING PROJECTS TO STRATEGY”.

1. Projects (and project managers) are located specifically at that junction between strategy and operations.  We are where the rubber hits the road.  Or in this case, the ship plies the waters (using their ‘anchor’ metaphor).

2. Enterprises are increasingly making sustainability a big part of their mission and vision statements and thus, of course, their strategies.

3. Projects (and project managers) should be connecting (anchoring) their project objectives to the more strategic objectives of their enterprises.

Now, bring your eyes slightly to the right, to the perfectly-juxtaposed article “SMOG CASTS SHADOW OVER RAILROAD PROJECT”.

Looks to us as if this is an example of a project which became ‘un-moored’, ‘un-anchored’ from its strategic objectives, at least a little.  And we think it’s quite relevant that the objective in question is a sustainability-based objective.

It’s not the articles themselves that’s so important – it’s their juxtaposition.

And if nothing else, you have learned how that word – juxtaposition – can be used and put it into your vocabulary.  Who knows.  Your next project may involve a film director!

 *you already know this word