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Quiet Project Management: Turning Up the Volume on Productivity

Everyone knows the type; head down, taking notes or just listening patiently, quiet as a monk. This behavior at work doesn’t exactly scream productivity (in a literal sense), but as NASA’s Academy of Program/Project and Engineering Leadership (APPEL)  points out, you don’t have to be loud to contribute mightily in the workplace.

Who are the Silent?

In a recent interview with APPEL’s director, Roger Forsgren, the approach called Quiet Project Management is discussed for its potential to unlock the power of the workplace introvert. Who are these noiseless persons? They are, according to some studies, half of all individuals in any given time or place.

Thinking vs. Talking

Forsgren’s interest in the topic derives from his own sense of introversion and from the book by Susan Cain titled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. In the book, we learn that introverts are often incorrectly perceived as being shy, but in truth are simply overwhelmed by the talkers in the room.  Since extroverts often formulate their thoughts aloud, it is easy to overlook the contributions of those who think and ponder before deciding to speak up.

Potential of the Peaceful

Forsgren puts emphasis on the need to unlock the potential of the introvert, first by seeking to understand them, but also in leading them to understand their extroverted counterparts. In some cases, it is even possible to encourage these quiet types to act out of character in situations where being mute on an issue might be unwarranted. One might even find among introverts the most brilliant and intrepid leaders, as Forsgren illustrates:

Gandhi was an introvert and he changed the English Empire. Rosa Parks was an introvert and she changed our country. Introverts spend a lot of quiet time thinking. Perhaps not coincidentally, some of the greatest inventors and innovators—such as Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, and Steve Wozniak—have been introverts. I guess the message is: you don’t want to ignore that kind of potential horsepower.

Read the entire article at: http://appel.nasa.gov/2014/08/04/quiet-project-management-turning-up-the-volume-on-productivity/

About Eric Anderson

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Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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