Creating Harmony through Diversity


By Bryan Howard, BM, MA, PMP

AT&T Services

Tennessee, USA

The full definition of diversity found on http://www.merriam-webster.com/ is the condition of having or being composed of differing elements; the inclusion of different types of people in a group or organization; an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities. The website defines harmony as the combination of different musical notes played or sung at the same time to produce a pleasing sound; a pleasing combination or arrangement of different things.

Both terms, often viewed as unrelated, are in fact interrelated. In this article I will discuss interpersonal skills described in the Project Management Institute’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, 5th edition (PMBOK Guide®) that Project Managers can use to make the most of diverse backgrounds, ideas, and experiences to complete projects that meet stakeholder needs and expectations.

Project Managers must capitalize on the strengths of all team members. Section of the PMBOK Guide® outlines three interpersonal skills necessary to accomplish this. They are leadership, influencing, and effective decision making. The illustrations that follow reveal how these skills, when applied, can positively impact project management. In addition, specific competencies and tools and techniques are examined that contribute to the application of these skills.

I am a Musician. I am also a Project Manager. Both require discipline, dedication, and determination. Speaking from the musician’s point of view, I see leadership from the perspective of the symphony orchestra Conductor. The Community Arts Music Association in Santa Barbara, California describes the dynamics of an orchestra. Today’s full size orchestra includes about 100 musicians playing in various sections and performing different roles for the team that contribute to the overall sound, interpretation, and final performance. As leader, the conductor sets the tempo, dynamics, and blend. The string section frequently plays the melody; the phrases we find ourselves humming later. The woodwinds add texture and color while the brass provides intensity and punctuation. The percussion section underscores the performance with rhythmic support.

As a team everyone has the same goal but each section and individual player is unique. Members come from many cultures and backgrounds. Adapting to each other as musicians is essential to producing a harmonious outcome. Instruments sound vastly different and each can also be played for solo purposes with individual liberties taken with the music based on that one interpretation. Leadership skills are required to guide musicians in the transition from soloist to orchestra member.


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About the Author


pmwj38-Sep2015-Howard-PHOTOBryan Howard

Tennessee, USA



Bryan Howard
is a senior project program manager with AT&T Services, Inc. in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. He was born in Greenville, Kentucky, USA and graduated from Hughes Kirk High School in Beechmont, Kentucky. During high school he studied piano with the renowned Karen Willis. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA studying with Sylvia Kersenbaum, a concert artist from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He also graduated Summa cum Laude from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee, USA with a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Management.

Bryan’s background and training in music prepared him for a successful career in sales, organizational leadership, and project management. Over the past 20 years he has filled various roles in the telecommunications industry with positions held at AT&T in the Finance organization and Consumer and Business Retail Markets.

Currently, Bryan serves as Senior Project Program Manager with AT&T Services, Inc. and is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) by the Project Management Institute. He is recognized for his ability to lead teams and implement change and plays a pivotal role in assessing and managing project risks, jeopardies, escalations, and problem resolutions to ensure customer satisfaction. He in an expert in identifying ways to condense project delivery timelines, staying engaged as a leader, goal setting and achievement, communication, and assessing competencies.

Bryan is actively engaged in personal, technical, and professional development. He is skilled in managing time and mentoring others in time management. Throughout his career, Bryan has received multiple awards and recognition for top performance.

As a volunteer Bryan is a past Vice-President and President of the AT&T Pioneers Tennessee Chapter 21, Greater Nashville Council and has worked though that organization with Habitat for Humanity and Junior Achievement. Bryan resides in Antioch, Tennessee, USA with his wife, Julie. They are the parents of four grown children and have one granddaughter. He can be contacted at [email protected]