The Art of Program Management: A Paintbrush not a Hammer

Workday Life
4 min readOct 24, 2023


To me, a hammer is a tool that does one of two tasks very well;drive a nail into, or remove if from, another object. The by-product of hitting multiple nails between two or more objects generally implies structure, rigidity, or cohesion; but the hammer itself doesn’t do that task, it requires other tools and other actors and it isn’t the main agent to achieve those outcomes.

In contrast, a paint brush also only does a handful of tasks, but the “reach” of those tasks in driving a desired outcome on a canvas provides so much more than a hammer does, and its functionality as a tool isn’t limited in the same way a hammer is. A paintbrush requires understanding of technique, balance, and yes, STRUCTURE. However,what differentiates one tool from another is the ability to orchestrate an entire experience or product for its audience and comprehension of the complexity and depth that, if used correctly, a paintbrush can provide to achieve those outcomes.

When it comes to program management at Workday, we lead with paintbrushes, not hammers. Each PM is a creative in their own way, leveraging their own unique brush techniques and types of paint to bring experiences to life for both internal and external stakeholders.

A Typical Day in the Life of a PM

I’m a Program Manager (PM) on a team called Process Architecture that provides business process solutions or enhancements to support stakeholder requirements. What I enjoy about the role is that we support both enhancements for processes that are already established and in-flight as well as creating new processes to address the emerging requirements of our stakeholders. Once you layer in tooling and reporting requirements, it’s an extremely exciting and dynamic team to be a part of.

My day-to-day varies depending on where we are in a given initiative’s life-cycle, but a typical day usually consists of stakeholder engagements, project working groups, and a lot of continuous analysis and integration of new and evolving information

As a PM, it’s appealing to find a company where there’s a high degree of collaboration and program managers are appreciated–The real beauty comes in the ability to apply those techniques within a proven framework. If you give three artists the same tools, they’ll all use the tools differently. What will be the same, though, is that they all create art. And that’s what we’re doing as a team. Creating art for our stakeholders.

Making Art at Work

Leading with a paintbrush comes to life in new solutions where a process isn’t currently established or in new approaches to an existing solution. Where I’ve seen a paintbrush approach achieve the greatest outcomes is the framing and analysis of pain points and communication plans to inform our stakeholders which is especially important when your audience extends across a variety of different personas.

For me, there isn’t one project that stands out as proof of this concept, rather, there are individual instances across a wider range of projects where we’ve moved initiatives forward because we were able build deep understanding of a given problem set by integrating and orchestrating (see what I did there) frameworks together, with a clear end-state in mind and within the confines of the paint, textures, and canvases that we have at our disposal.

Continuing to play up the art analogy, we’re all about celebrating the creative here. Picasso and Matisse are both talented artists, however, their styles and techniques are drastically different. What unifies them is the high quality of outcome and the fit within their unique audiences. One project or program may require a different approach than another or may support stakeholders differently, but the outcome is always impactful results. This allows us to grow by elevating our strengths, while simultaneously providing the opportunity to try new approaches and techniques.

Your Future is a Blank Canvas Here

There is no confusion as to what career progression looks like at Workday. We’ll tell you how to grow and what steps it takes to get to the next level. We have career mapping and career progression paths, providing a level of transparency as to where you can grow and what skills you need to get there.

Not to mention program management allows you to gain exposure to all lines of business, exploring potential opportunities outside of PM work. Our internal mobility program supports Workmates in navigating what internal career moves can look like.

Workday gives you the canvas, the palette, the paintbrush, and the paint. You turn it into whatever art means to you.

A brighter work day is just around the corner ☀️. Explore career opportunities here. For more #WDAYLife content, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.



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