How to Manage Complex Projects: Part 1

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In the entertainment world, many people wear many hats; songwriter hats, manager hats, tour bus driver hat, graphic arts hat, musician or artist hat . . . and the list goes on and on.  I personally have a huge hat collection. It would seem like I have ten heads. I wear them all fairly well, but that is not often the most effective way to operate, even if you can. Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should.  That is an important lesson to really learn over and over again. As artists we get carried away, and we get excited, so it’s not uncommon for us to dive head first into all processes. It’s not a bad thing to do, per se, but it limits the other areas to which your energy can go.  If you are an artist, and you happen to hate managing social media accounts, then consider, if you will, hiring a social media manager, and freeing up all that time to do what you do best, . . . create!  

So when it comes to project complexity, work smart, not hard.  Here’s how. . . 

How many hats do you wear?

Think about all the jobs that you do.  Can you list them?

Even just narrowing down all the steps in a particular, singular process can be very revealing when it comes to the How, What, Where, When, Why, and How of your energy and resource dispersal.

Example: Recording, Promoting, and Releasing An Album

Consider all the elements and steps that go into recording an album of music:

  • Songwriter/Composer

  • Lyricist

  • Studio Performer (Instrument)

  • Studio Singer

  • Recording Engineer

  • Mixing Engineer

  • Mastering Engineer

  • Photographer

  • Videographer

  • Graphic Designer

  • Product Manufacturer

  • Print Material Specialist

  • Publicist

  • Tour Manager

  • Social media Specialist

  • Marketing Expert

We can stop there for the moment.  I think that you get my point here.  How many of these jobs are you doing? Now take some time to explore which hats you genuinely enjoy and have an aptitude for, and which ones can you just not seem to be able to get excited about, and which ones often get left aside or forgotten?. . . How long does it take to perform the duties of each of these hats?. . . Which hats are you willing to give away?. . . 

Once you have really looked at each of these hats, decide which you will keep and wear, and which you will not.  From there you will have a clear direction of what you need next as far as resources, team, and beyond.

Know The Grand Vision

It’s important to see the whole picture the best that you can.  Know where you need or want to end up and from there you can plot your course and do as much prep work and management as possible.  If you haven’t already, take some quiet time to close your eyes and imagine the expansiveness of the horizon, and allow your vision to fill the space. . . What does it look like in a month, in six months, in a year, in ten years?. . .  It never hurts to know your endgame goals. Having a multi-year plan is an excellent tool. If you don’t have one, consider exploring the practice. This will help you know how to use or deploy your hats.  

The way I have always viewed it, is like a TV.  There are a million little individual pixels, and when viewed up close they don’t really have a specific shape.  But once you step back they start to take on colored and shaped forms. A picture develops. . . and then suddenly, once you are positioned in the right way, the whole picture becomes clear as day.  It is this ability to zoom in and zoom out that helps keep a complex project in line. I have managed events and coordinated happenings with many people (video shoots, bands etc), and I have always found my zooming ability to be of service. Seeing only one or the other can be deceiving and very well could leave one blindsided by something that they didn't foresee happening.  This kind of stuff happens. . . People die, natural disasters happen, the economy affects everything, and hell, people change. . . Even you, dear reader, aren’t immune to this. 

Know what you want.  Know what it looks like.  Know all the ways to get there.

Vision Hats

So now that you have these first two elements before your eyes, I suggest taking the time to play.   Both of these topic questions have a ton of gold contained within. Really ponder and ruminate on these prompts.  Your Vision Hat is one of your best friends and most useful tools in life, especially in the arts, where there is already a bit of a disadvantage happening anyway.  The Vision Hat is a tangible thing, which makes it easier for humans to understand, as well as the psychological / magickal aspect of manifestation via vision; the power of the mind, of positive thought, and so on.

Before going on to part 2 of this blog topic, dig in deep and explore all of the words here.  Write things down, and keep a record of progress for yourself as you proceed. If you are managing a large project then this written material will very likely end up turning into your event plan or your day-of itinerary.  The power is in the writing down of all things, or as it’s called by witches, casting a spell. Getting your ideas and thoughts out of your head is the challenge, but it also carries with it the greatest rewards. Once things are captured and fixed into a record, then there is a natural process where the ideas contained seem to expand and evolve, and that is GOOD!  One of the most common things writing-resistant people say is, “I’ve got it in my head. I don’t need to write it down.” I happen to fundamentally disagree with that for the simple fact that *shit happens* and sometimes things just slip out or away and they don’t come back. . . This can be anything from a song lyric that would have made the song a hit, or it could have been a crucial bit of info about an arrival time to an event of importance.  Just write it all down, and save yourself from the heartache and hardship of losing a great idea or messing up a plan. 

To be continued in part 2.

Till next time, Be Well.

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