Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Project Management

I wish I have the workshop slides right now. I’m waiting for response about it, so this post may change in the future.
I found that one definition of Project is, according to wikipedia:
"a temporary endeavor with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or deliverables),[1] undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives,[2] typically to bring about beneficial change or added value." - article here

The first part of the presentation focused on Defining the Project, which included 3 main actions.
  •       Develop a SMART goal.

Time bound

I found that this concept of SMART goals is also used in the Right Brain Business Plan methodology. The main difference, and one that you may want to take into account is, that instead of using “R for relevant”, the author uses “R for resonant”. And she says “The more aligned the goal is with your values and vision, the more likely you will dedicate the time and energy necessary to achieve the goal. If it feels like a burdensome “have-to”, the goal probably isn’t going to be met”
  •       Determine tactics.

In here, we talked about the logistics (catering, venue, movie, AV, music, sponsorship, speakers…), promotions (radio, newspapers, social media) and recruitment (of individuals and organizations)

  •       Set up a timeline.

Break down the project in as many detailed tasks as possible, specifying task, person responsible and due date. If necessary, include whether the person responsible relies on you to do the task.

Make the timeline available to everybody so if things change, everybody is aware of it.

If anything needs to be changed, establish how you will “re-work” on it and re communicate it.

If people aren’t doing what their responsible of, give them a call and ask them why. There are several reasons why people disengage from doing tasks in a project. Aim to re-engage. I found this piece of advice very useful because very often I’ve seen and heard stories of leaders punishing for tasks undone without giving much thought to the reasons why people are not doing it. You want to know your team, right? And you want them involved in the future. Yes, sometime you have to let them go, but many times we push them out.

The second part of the presentation was about Developing an Effective Team. It was also divided into a), b) and c) but I stopped taking detailed notes because it was said that the slides were going to be shared…so I’ll patiently wait for it.
  •    Chose the ideal team. Ask yourself and write down the answers to the following questions:

How many people?? 
What skills do they have?? 
What roles do they hold??
What time commitment do they bring??
How often do we meet??
Who manages who?? (I don’t particularly feel comfortable with the idea of managing others but, that was the term used)

According to the workshop, an ideal project core team is small (3 to 7 people)
Has diverse skills
Has clear individual responsibilities
All individuals bring similar level of commitment
Meets regularly (+/- weekly in any form possible. Online or face to face)
There is one clear project management. (manager…arrr)
Everyone feels commited to the overall project
Transparent (loved to find it there)
Based on relationships (loved it even more!)
  •     (Title missing... Sorry)

What is your connection with them??

What do you have in common with them??

What will hook them up??

Can you tell your personal narrative?? 
This one was an interesting one. The example was “what if you have to invite people to come to an event, how would you convince them??” I personally don’t like to convince people. My view is that they should really feel that there is something for them and I won’t be able to get every person I talk to, to go. I can only get those who connect with my motivations to go, so I tell them my story of why I’m part of it. The idea of trying to pull every single person that goes by, either with one script or by adapting the script depending on the person, doesn’t seem honest to me, and that is what “convincing”, and partly marketing, is all about. If instead, all of us who have to invite people do it by telling our personal narratives, not only we may be more successful in getting people to go, but we may also ensure a diverse group of attendants drawn by different motivations.

How will you Get 100% commitment?? Now, imagine they say they’ll attend the event. And then what?? Tell them the next step. “Ok, that’s great!! We are holding a meeting here and then to do that, I’ll see you there!!”

How will you follow them up??

How will you capture their details??

What’s your reason for wanting them to join you??

  •     Build strong relationships.

Strong relationships = Strong commitment
Commitment is the glue of the team!!! So there you have it.
Meet often and effectively.  I think that a lot of people hate meetings for various reasons:
They are too boring. Facilitate social activities before or after the meeting. Don’t call them meetings. Find a balance between being serious and being nice and fun. Don’t be too serious or too relaxed about it. Host parties and other social events to hang out…meet to catch up and know people, not just to meet.

They are too long. It depends on the type of group you have and the stage that your project is in, but usually, meetings take too long because we run them ineffectively. I  must say, at early stages of projects that people usually don’t have much experience on, but have lots of energy to put in, it takes many many meetings to find that one project you want to engage in. I’ve heard people complaining about it, but I believe that such a stage is necessary. In those meetings, people explore each other’s ideas, share their life’s situation…start connecting and building the relationships…as we’ve been told above, strong relationships = strong commitment and commitment is the glue of the team. I think this is important for those groups when people come together randomly, let’s say at an event, and want to join forces to tackle a particular situation but they’re to define what, why and how yet. Those many apparently useless and wasteful meetings play the role of exploring whether what they are together for is worth thinking about or not, as well as the values and motivations behind the individuals. Do not be too obsessed with acting and doing. Good things deserve time and depth. “it’s better to go wrong in freedom than to go right in chains”. In my words, it’s better to get it wrong by talking a bit too much for a bit too long at an early stage, than to get it right in doing something straight away that shouldn’t/don’t need to/don’t have to be done, which compromises the commitment, burns out the people you’re working with and buries the group and potential projects in very little time. I enjoyed this presentation about running meetings. It was design for committee meetings but a lot of its content still applies. Have a look at slides 24 to 31.

The third and last part of the workshop was about Managing an Effective Team, with 3 main actions:
  •           [You] Create an effective culture: What they were saying basically is “you set the tone”. You need to be what you need your team to be: People focused, transparent, accountable, trusting, promote warmth and openness, value skills and learning, acknowledge and celebrate achievements, amongst others.
  •    Manage people’s actions: GANTT’s charts where suggested. It’s a chart where you define the task, by when, by who, and to whom of a project.
  •    Learn the art of delegation: I liked this one. It started with one example. You’re in charge of organizing an event and you go and ask X to help you. “Ok, I need you to print this”. That is an example of what you shouldn’t do when delegating tasks.

·     Set the context, give the background information. “hey, I am organizing the event for the project, and one way we’ll let people know about it is by sending some flyers”
·        Purpose, tell them what it is that what they’re doing is going to be used for. “We’ll use the flyers as our main promotional/marketing strategy”
·         Quality, let them know the details of the work. “We need color copies, in this type of paper, with this size, margins…”etc.
·         Quantity. “We need Z number of copies”
·    Resources. “A digital copy is kept in this USB, the original copy is in Sarah’s  computer in case anything happens. This is her phone number and email address. We’ve done this with company A before, but feel free to use another one if you consider it an appropriate move. However remember you have this amount of money to get it done”
·         Timeframe. Tell them when it needs to be done, when you will check in and what he/she can do if it cannot be done. Usually, ask them to communicate with you as soon as anything happens rather than wait until you check in. “if anything happens, maybe they promised something and just called you to tell you that they won’t be able to keep that promise…whatever happens, please call me at this number and let me know asap so that we can talk through a options…it’ll be ok, much better than if you wait until I call to tell me, I can tell you that!! ;-)”
·        Clarify. Ask him/her to repeat to you all the info you just delivered and answer any questions they might have.
·       Feedback. Tell them how they did. Whether it was a good or bad performance, give them more than a thank you. If it was a rather poor one just tell them to pay a bit more attention to X,Y and Z aspects. Usually, these people are volunteer and are inexperienced, they are there because they want to be, and hopefully you connected with their hearts to get them on your team, so help them with their learning experience. If you’re harsh on them, you’ll lose them, you’ll crash their hearts, but you need continuity. For the next event, there will be a pile of things that you won’t have to go through with them because they already know. 

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