Project Management

3 PM Lessons I Needed to Relearn

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Categories: Best Practices


by Dave Wakeman

I just got back from taking a road trip, and while I was away for the month, I had my website rebuilt from the ground up. It turned out nicely and makes me look like I really know what I’m talking about.

All kidding aside, having to put my website in the hands of an expert in web development taught me some lessons about project management that either I forgot or needed to learn.

Let me share a few of them with you…

1. Being clear on the outcome you hope to achieve is crucial. At the end of the project, I debriefed with my web developer and she said that the nice thing about working with me is that I respect her work and don’t micromanage.

As we continued talking, I realized that the reason I didn’t micromanage the project was because I was pretty clear in the project brief with exactly what I needed to achieve and what success looked like to me.

Due to that, I was able to give her clear instructions and allow her to do the work I brought her in to do.

In managing projects, all of us should be aware that if we spend a lot more time at the start of the project being clear about the results, we are likely to need to spend less time micromanaging or “handling” things during the project.

2. Communication is key. I’ve been talking about the people aspect of projects since I started writing this column back in 2012. In doing a project to rebuild myself under constraints imposed on me by the pandemic, I remembered the importance of clear communication.

In the past, I know that I have written that the keys to successful communication are for your messages to be:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Easy to understand

Over the years, maybe I’ve been guilty of getting away from those three principles, but I was reminded that these are essential communication qualities and that it is good to keep them in mind—especially when managing remotely.

3. Let experts be experts. One of the key ideas in my project management talks and writing is that as the leader, you can’t be the smartest about every aspect of your project. That’s why you work so hard to build strong teams.

As often as I remind myself, I know that I can still slip up and throw out bad ideas.

It causes two problems when I do this:

  • First, it slows down things because the people on my team often have to explain to me why I am a knucklehead and why I am wrong.
  • Second, it slows the team members down because they have to do their work and they end up thinking about the way that they are going to have to justify something to me. Even when that isn’t what I really want, my actions tell them something different.

Strangely, my website project came together very well and I managed to keep myself from micromanaging the whole process. I was reminded that as a leader you have to:

  1. Be clear in your vision
  2. Communicate effectively
  3. Give experts room to do their job

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Posted by David Wakeman on: August 11, 2021 01:40 PM | Permalink

Comments (2)

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Dear Dave
Very interesting theme that brought to our reflection and debate
Thanks for sharing and for your 3 recommendations.
In your vision of the project, were the mission and success criteria included?

Thanks Dave for posting this
I particularly love Your point #1. Being clear on the outcome you hope to achieve is crucial.

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