It took me ten years to figure out the difference between a producer and a project manager. Let me save you the time..
Producers do two things:
- Project development — taking the germ of an idea and facilitating its evolution into something feasible.
- Project delivery — planning and execution of the idea.
We leverage three core skills when we do it:
- Strategic ability
- Entrepreneurial ability
- Project management
Project development is complex. There isn’t a specific process or series of steps you can follow to create something from nothing. Strategy is a tool for dealing with uncertainty. We use it to help clients achieve results, and producers use it on projects when facing uncertain problems. Producers with strong strategic abilities thrive in chaotic and ambiguous situations.
The act of creation is so chaotic because it’s an unfolding and emergent process driven by the relationships between people, technology and context. Those relationships give rise to surprising, unexpected and risky opportunities. Producers with entrepreneurial skills are more likely to spot the potential upside. Instead of trying to control the process, they “shepherd the unfolding” of ideas into the most vibrant version of what they could be.
Project delivery is complicated. There are lots of moving parts. But the production process is like anything else complicated (a car engine, software, flying a plane); once we know what it is and how it works, we can master it. Producers with excellent project management skills can keep even the gnarliest of projects on track.
After 13+ years of trying to codify a producer’s core skill set, I think this is it. What do you think?
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