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Five unexpected industries using project management

Unexpected fruit: apple with an orange inside

I’ve been involved in project management in one form or another for longer than I care to remember. Over the years, I’ve worked in a wide variety of different industries. Reflecting on these, I started to wonder what industries you don’t normally associate with project management.

In the end, I came up with five industries which you wouldn’t automatically think of as using project management or project management techniques in their day-to-day jobs, but actually do:

Medicine

When you think of medicine, it’s highly unlikely you’ll automatically think of project management. Yet it’s an area that uses project management techniques all the time – even if they don’t call it that.

As an example, think about an operation: before it even happens the entire surgical team gets together to discuss the process, scenario plan and map out who is going to do what, where and when. On the day, everyone is at the top of their game thanks to all the preparation. After the event, there is a formal debrief and lessons learned session. Sound familiar?

Music

A song is a project! I bet that’s not something you’d ever think of, but it’s true. For a song to come together and be promoted, you need a bunch of subject matter experts – from writers, musicians, sound technicians, the artist(s), marketers and promoters. They all have to do their thing at the right time so that the whole can come together. Project management techniques help them do that.

Film

Similar to the music industry, a film is a massive project with multiple sub-projects and workstreams. Budgets are very tightly controlled and deadlines enforced. After all, time is money!

Retail

When you think of retail, you don’t tend to think of project management. Yet, everything from what to stock on the shelves to how to lay the product out, uses project management techniques.

Real estate

Selling houses don’t sound like an industry that would use a lot of project management. However, every house sale is a project in its own right. From signing contracts, to sorting out the promotional material and house staging (if necessary), hosting viewings and presenting offers.

So next time you look enviously at the careers of surgeons, musicians, movie directors, retailers or real estate agents, remember much of what they do isn’t that different to what you do as a project manager. At least, you don’t have to try to save lives, write a hit song or sell a house, as well as managing a project!

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