This summer Patrice Colancecco Embry posted an article on The Digital Project Manager suggesting that project managers needed to show empathy not just towards team members and stakeholders, but towards the project itself.
In this interview Patrice and Dave dig in a little deeper on the idea of showing empathy for your project, why and how you'd go about doing that. They also get into the how important it is for the PM to show empathy for him/herself and when it is okay to totally hate the project.
If you'd like to check out Patrice's original article, you can find it here: http://www.thedigitalprojectmanager.com/managing-project-empathy/
Steve Winters and Matt Payton are Digital Project Managers who work MetalToad. One of the coolest things they are working on right now is a series of experiments they are planning for 2015. Each month they're going to change up something specific in how they live and work to see what impact it has. In January they've decided to take on meditating for 20 minutes each day. I am going to join Steve and Matt and commit to meditating for at least 20 minutes each day during January and I want to challenge you and other PMs to join us as well.
Steve mentions in the post that one of the reasons he thinks meditation will be beneficial is that PMs have a lot of stress in their lives and this could be a great way to help with that. He's right. It will. I've been meditating almost daily for close to 10 years now and it has had a MASSIVE positive impact on every corner of my life.
If you're interested in participating, please reach out to Steve and let him know you be joining in. We'll be using Insight Timer and there will probably be an Insight Timer Meditation group set up for meditating PMs so we can all offer each other support.
One of my teachers once said something to me about meditation that has stuck with me and seems more true every day. She said, "I sit every day because of what happens when I don't."
@brennaheaps kicks off the March PhilaPM Meetup by asking a room full of Digital PMs if any of them have had to overcome an overwhelming challenge with a team.
By traditional PM standards, this is an odd question.
Answering it requires admitting there are times when you don’t know what you are doing and are way out of your depth. This is not the way of the traditional PM. If you admit not knowing everything, you demonstrate WEAKNESS and might lose CONTROL. If you have no CONTROL, how can you MANAGE PEOPLE?
Once the question has been laid down for the room, however, the sharing begins. Several of the PMs around the table offer stories of impossible situations they’ve faced. These aren’t the kind of challenges that can be addressed with a change to a contract or a revised scoping doc. These are the “we had it sorted and then the bottom fell out of the world” problems. The ones you couldn’t have seen coming and which leave you with no good options. These are the problems you give talks about at conferences for the next five years.
If you’ve been working in project management for any length of time, you’ve been involved with the meetings that take place at the end of projects. These project reviews or post mortems are generally a wee bit heavy on blame side and a bit light on the learning to improve side. That is, assuming you are actually doing them.
If you are working with Agile, hopefully you are doing retrospectives so that your team can get together to explore how to improve how they work together. Retrospectives are one of the best parts of Agile and a great thing for the team… but this is a little different.
This meeting, which is hosted by Happy Cog is none of the above. It is, however, one of the more interesting characteristics of this segment of the PM population. Digital PM has been around for a while, but only in the past few years has it begun to identify itself as a somewhat separate group. This meeting is full of PMs from different companies. What they have in common is that in one way or another, they all manage projects that are involved with digital media. Some of their projects are less than a month long. Some last more than a year. Some of their clients demand a traditional approach to managing the work. Some demand an Agile approach. The PMs working in these organizations are generally working with fairly small, design centric teams. Their hybrid model is evolving from needing to be able to work a variety of ways, but being able to fully lock into neither. Their agility is their flexibility and this sharing is part of their approach to continuous improvement.
Ten years ago, the project management that existed in this space was simple, basic and practiced by people who were just beginning to cut their teeth. Now it is led by experienced professional project managers and leaders who are schooled up in Agile and waterfall and are collaborating on hybrid tools and techniques that allow them to leverage the best of both. Their pragmatic, collaborative, framework agnostic approach to finding the best way to work with the team and deliver for the client is an exciting and emerging thing.
PhilaPM is organized by Brett Harned, Brenna Heaps, Sloan Miller, and Justin Handler. The group has evolved to the point where they are now working developing a new logo, name and website. Until that happens, you can find them here - http://philamade.com/
If you aren’t from Philly, but do work in digital media or if you are just a PM who could use a little inspiration, you may want to check out some of the following…
Groups in the US and CanadaAustin http://www.meetup.com/Digital-PM-Meetup-Austin/
NYC http://dpmconnect.com and http://www.meetup.com/projectmgmt-72/
Groups in EMEALondon, UK http://www.meetup.com/london-digital-project-managers/
Manchester, UK http://www.meetup.com/Northern-Digital-PM/
Groups in ASIAPACMelbourne Digital Project Managers http://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-Digital-Project-Management/
Sydney Digital Project Managers http://www.meetup.com/Sydney-Digital-Project-Management/
My favorite presentation at DigitalPM2013 was given by Sam Barnes. After years working as a PM in Digital, Sam turned to the DARK SIDE… he became a client. Suddenly, he was taking bids from all the companies he was used to competing against. Given his years of experience leading projects from the agency side of the table, he walked into it thinking it would be a bit of a cake walk. What he found was maybe not so much with the cake … or the walk.
In this podcast interview Sam and I talk about his experience being on the client side, his presentation at DigitalPM 2013, the challenges for those working in the Digital PM space who have to be able to work in both waterfall, and Agile, but find that neither really fits as well as one would hope and the upcoming DigitalPM UK conference.
If you’d like to learn more about Sam: