What Avatar Can Teach You About Project Management

What’s the one thing you enjoyed most in Avatar? For my Project Management friend is was the video logging. Did you notice that the team kept their reports not in Microsoft Word (i.e. on paper) but as video logs.

When trying it out, the protagonist in the movie couldn’t get a handle on it. ‘Don’t worry, you’ll soon get used to it’, was the reply. Well, it worked for them, could it work for you? Here are some of the reasons you might want to consider using video for project management activities.

What Avatar Can Teach You About Project Management

Advantages of video logging

  • Capture Emotions— Capture human elements missing from electronic reports, such as emotions or subtle suggestions made in the video logs that would not otherwise be noticed.
  • Speed — Videos are faster to make. You just open your mouth and talk! Consider the effort in using Microsoft Word, applying styles, finding the right template, typing, fixing grammar horrors etc.
  • Convenience — you can record videos almost anywhere. The recording device is smaller and easier to transport.
  • Faster — For me, using a flip camera is now as easy as a telephone – just start talking! Consider this against the effort in using Microsoft Word, applying styles, finding the right template, typing in, fixing grammar horrors etc.

Disadvantages of video logging

  • Structure — you need to train people how to deliver video reports, otherwise they’ll ramble defeating the purpose.
  • Search — while you can search Word files on the network by keyword (i.e. metadata), how would you do this with video? Is it possible to tag/keyword videos as we do with Word docs and online reports?
  • Edits — while videos are faster to make, if they need to be edited, then you lose the upside.
  • Convenience — while you can record videos almost anywhere, this can be abused as employees file in reports pretending to be onsite with the client.
  • Compliance – the number of laptops stolen each year (holding confidential data) continues to rise. This raises issues with unauthorized user video apps to submit, retrieve, share confidential data. Of course, this also applies to PC, iPhones etc.
  • Storage — maybe this is no longer as problem as the cost of server space continues to fall and compression technologies improve. But would terabytes of data get expensive in the end? Not sure.

Should Project Manager use video for status reports?

It’s early days yet but I can see the attraction of using video to file in reports. The difficulty may be in getting people to make the change. As it often the case, the problem is not in the processes or technological benefits, but the human issues that underpin these decisions.

What do you think?

Could it work? What do you think is the main barrier to using video more frequently in the work place?