Ready, Set, Fire!

My boss, Galen, recently joked about shooting schedules out of cannons, which is a great visual for some of the chaos we’ve been managing. A little shot of fear rushed through me as I also imagined myself being shot out of a cannon and I had to wonder, how do human cannonballs survive? What I found is that the danger is not in the lighting of the fuse. The danger is in the landing.

As a project manager in a fast paced industry, I constantly feel catapulted into the unknown. My focus, though, must be on the landing in order to survive. This has led me to some articles recently on agile project management.

Agile project management deviates from traditional management so you have to throw some of those more rigid PMP certified principles out the window and start taking a more humanistic approach. It’s about being creative and using the collective intelligence in your organization.

To sum this up for those of you working on fast paced projects, let me give you a few thoughts:

  • It’s all about the collective. I am one person and I have expertise in certain areas. Therefore, I must employ others to fill in the gaps in order to accomplish the tasks involved. If you’re getting a migration project together, for instance, be sure you have not only your leader but also the experts you will need in various areas such as IT management, data, training and public relations.
  • Don’t over plan in the beginning because plan A will most likely not be the final product. Instead, set a good framework and then adapt to the circumstances and people involved. Often the only control you have as a project manager is your reaction to the good, bad and ugly involved in every project.
  • Encourage feedback from everyone involved. If it’s an ILS migration you’re working on this means everyone. From your Director to the front line staff, almost everyone is affected by this change and everyone will most certainly have an opinion. It’s good to check the pulse often to access how you’re doing as a project manager and to keep the energy of the project as positive as possible given your unique set of circumstances and personalities.
  • Something I’ve talked with other project managers about recently is sanity savers. We all have our own ideas about this but you must find what works for you. You might be surprised that working in a world of technology, my sanity saver is a white board. To me, nothing focuses me more than being able to write it all out and have it in front of me constantly as a reminder of what’s been done and what I need to accomplish.

I hope these ideas are useful to those of you hurling yourself out of cannons lately. If you are attending the Evergreen conference, I’ll also be talking about some of these principles with three other project managers in the Project Manager’s Jambalaya discussion. I hope to see you there!