A topic interesting to me is the overlap between project management and technical direction. Technical direction is a very industry specific way to look at the job. And, granted depending on where you work and the specific shop structure of that theatre the job may vary significantly from someone else with the same title. It is for this reason that I think the term makes it more difficult to generalize duties and needs. While I think that there will always be hammer slinging TD’s in small venues, there are a variety of places, where the TD’s job is much more a management position. Furthermore, A great TD isn’t always the best welder or carpenter, and great welders and carpenters don’t always make great TD’s. Thus, I find it useful for framing a TD (particularly the management style) in a project management frame of reference. Why? Every show is a project. A season is a project – and a series of projects. Here is a definition of a project: "A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result" PMI PMBOK 3d edition.
You may have noticed on my blog that there are a lot of resources for project management. It is for two reasons – I am one, (and a TD), and I believe the above. By framing the job differently I have a wealth of resources that helps teach me how to plan, organize, manage, and other wise develop the many different aspects of the job. It also makes it easier to teach, talk, and think about concrete skills that a TD of any level should have, and ways to scale up and down the projects.
I am working on a session that will develop these ideas for USITT in Cincinnati – and I am sure I will sound off more here about it in the upcoming months. If you have insights, or comments please let me know!