There are two types of project managers in the profession — those who expect tools and methodology to automate their work for them, and those who leverage tools and methodology to help them do their work.
Those in the first category are crank-turners, and those in the second category are goal-drivers.
If you are simply accumulating laundry lists for meeting agendas, open action lists for review by stakeholders, and completing required project documentation because your PMO requires it, then you are a crank-turner. If you expect any project management software to automate project management processes and take them over for you — then you are a crank-turner. If you believe methodologies and certifications provide recipes for successful project outcomes — then you are a crank-turner.
But if you know what your project needs to deliver and what value it needs to create, you have defined the relationship between tasks and deliverables, you may be a goal-driver. If you are using your methodology, e.g PMBOK or your local PMO methodology, as a set of tools to help you achieve the project goals and value, then you are a goal driver. If you are frequently examining the relationship between your tactical activities such as your meeting agendas, action lists, next steps and your ultimate deliverables, then you are a goal-driver.
We are all crank-turners at times, aren’t we? It’s easy to fall back on mindless activity as a substitute for progress sometimes, but as we move up the experience ladder, we as project leaders need to take a break from turning the crank, look up, and drive to our goal.