Managing Volunteers: Push for Efficiency!
Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community, learn new things and meet interesting people that enrich your network. But if you decide to volunteer as a project leader, my biggest lesson learned is that it’s as serious a commitment as taking a job.
There are no core project management elements that wouldn’t apply just because it’s not done in a more classical commercial setup. There are goals, constraints, stakeholders, customers, a team, processes, risk management…you name it. The volunteer PM’s role is the same regardless of the environment—that is, to keep the project moving forward and deliver expected outcomes.
Yet, there are differences given the nature of volunteering—mostly in people management and the required high-level communication, soft skills and leadership style. When it comes to project management techniques, I would recommend keeping an agile mindset and pursuing lean execution.
Why would that apply to volunteering specifically? Although we mostly hear about agile methods related to software development, agility is the ability to respond to changes and being able to learn and apply new knowledge quickly. The principles of agile methods focus on close proximity with customers and empowered project team members, and emphasize lean execution in terms of avoiding any unnecessary activities—
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