If you do any job for long enough, you’ll definitely weather a few storms. Project management is no exception. I’ve been managing digital projects for over 7 years now, and while most days have been bright and clear, I’ve lived to tell the tale of some pretty rough seas.
When I first watched Connecting, a case study on interaction design, I found it truly inspiring and I was excited about the future of technology that was presented. It opened my eyes to the potential we have to use technology to improve the health and well-being of people around the world. But five years on, I find myself viewing the same narrative through a slightly different lens - one that is a bit more wary of data collection and artificial intelligence.
The question is, how do we create technology that serves to improve and enrich the lives of people around the world, while ensuring that there are safeguards in place to protect us from ourselves?
As 2017 draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on what a difference a year has made for me professionally.
This time last year, I resolved to find myself in a new job by the end of the year. I was with a great company with supportive upper management and amazing colleagues; but despite this, I was unhappy. A year earlier I had been promoted from a project management position to a people management position. I love project management and I’m really good at it; but despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t find the same passion for managing people and all their idiosyncrasies. I think that deep down, I had known that my role was not a good fit for quite some time, but it wasn’t until the end of the year that I really admitted it to myself.
Managing risk is a necessary component of project management. Unfortunately it is often neglected right up until the point where there is a serious problem that needs to be adressed. Ignoring risks until they materialize is guaranteed to blow your budget and schedule every time - and it will add a lot of unnecessary stress to boot.
Despite the obvious benefits of a robust risk management strategy, it tends to be one of the last things project managers are trained on. Most of the new PMs that I talk to aren't familiar with the terminology and simply don't know where to begin. So I've put together an infographic that makes risk management simple to understand.
When I first entered the workforce, I was surprised at the number of times that I would hear managers say things like "Let's not tell the client about this until we know whether or not this is a real issue". I couldn't fathom what was so wrong with letting the client know about all of the risks that you're tracking and what you're doing to mitigate them.
As I moved up through the ranks, and began interacting with clients more, I began doing things my own way.
The days may be long, but the years are certainly short. Each passing year seems to somehow be shorter than the last, and my kids are growing up way too fast. So I decided to take a summer off from work and stay home with them while they still genuinely want to spend time with me.
I knew that the summer would be fun, but I didn't expect it to be so educational. Here are a few of the most important things I learned:
In this digital age when we are all so connected, it can be difficult to find time to get away from the constant barrage of e-mails, meetings, and web conferences in order to get any real work done.
But fear not, for I have compiled all of the most common advice that I have given over the past several years into one handy infographic.
Good project managers know that 90% of project management is communication; and great project managers know how to use their communication skills to solve tough problems and keep their team on track.
I've summarized my best practices for solving tough problems in the infographic below.
I've read many articles recently about the importance of soliciting feedback from employees so that management is better equipped to make changes. But it seems to me that most of the advice I've read is incomplete. You see, there is a lot of discussion about the importance of soliciting feedback, but very little discussion about the importance of questioning that feedback and digging deeper to find out the root cause of the issues identified by the employees. Listening to your employees isn't going to get you far if your interpretation of their feedback causes you to solve a different problem than the one that actually needs to be solved.