Archives for March 2013

Reflections on Project Roles & Communication

This content was originally sent in an email rolling out some changes to the project roles. It was updated on 9/6/13 to better reflect how the department is currently managing projects.

Below are some thoughts and comments on responsibility and communication between project team members.

Reflections on each role

I’ve come to expect that Project Stakeholders will not be thinking about the details of what the team members will actually have to do to make a project happen. This freaks me out sometimes. But I’m learning that this is a GOOD thing. They shouldn’t be caught up in those details because their concern is whether we should be doing it at all and, if we do it, whether the proposed strategy will actually work. They are the people team members go to when they hit roadblocks they can’t get around.

The Project Manager is responsible for suggesting ideas, but even more importantly absorbing all the ideas and feedback from everyone involved. Their role is to consolidate everything they’ve received, shift through it and paint the clearest picture of where we’re going and what success looks like so that others involved in the project know what they need to know to actually make it happen.

Project Managers are both responsible for

  • Asking probing questions; seeking to understand the underlying reasons for others’ suggestions
  • Listening actively to what others are saying and asking probing questions to get to the underlying assumptions, beliefs and philosophies.
  • Returning focus to the customer’s experience whenever that topic gets lost.
  • Identifying and suggesting possible solutions, ensuring that the managers and executive’s concerns are addressed
  • Modifying solutions until consensus is reached.
  • Documenting where the discuss landed
  • Recapping discussions. Then following-up to confirm that this is in fact where the team wants to go.
  • Getting answers that other team members need.

Lost in Translation

During the transition from idea to actual project strategizing, it’s easy to have information become “lost in translation’. Sometimes this creates tension between the person that had the idea and the person who will execute on the idea. To combat this tension, I think the most effective tool in a Project Managers “tool box” is listening followed by probing questions.

What does this look like? I suggest starting with an in-person conversation where you ask questions like:

  • Did any other managers or executives express concerns that I need to factor into the plan I’m putting together?
  • What ideas were suggested and then abandoned already ? What was the reason behind deciding against it?
  • How important is this? Is this really more important than project X or Y that I’m already working on?
  • Who has been involved in the conversations to-date? (You can ask them clarifying questions as well to get a clearer picture of discussions that have already occurred.)
  • Should this include… a landing page? a video…?

Then during the answers, listen for indications that there’s more underlying information. Then ask questions like:

  • Can you explain a little more what you mean when you say…?
  • Can you define…”
  • When you say X do you really mean Y?

There may be questions that come to mind that you want to avoid asking because you’re afraid of the answer. Don’t give into the fear. Ask the question now. It’s better to know, and deal, with it now instead of later.

When you start to wrap up the discussion, recap what you’ve heard. Often when you give your recap they’ll realize that they missed a pivotal piece of information or that there is a hole somewhere in the strategy. There’s something really powerful about hearing someone else recap what you’ve said.

The goal at this point is get as clear a picture as possible of what you need to achieve. Push back in areas you don’t think are clear or that don’t make sense. Think of this as one more place where either details can get lost or where the strategy can be even better refined.

Closing Comments

If you’ve made it this far: thanks for reading! I really love this topic and I would love to dialog with you if you have questions, concerns, or just want to chat.

Hearken to the Blog Schedule

From: Jayson Bradley
To: Marketing Dept

Marketing,

We now have a blog schedule posted on the Marketing Communications Team wiki page. Here’s a quick key the Logos blog:

Post: What is the post about?

Date Live: Self explanatory

Date Due: You will notice that by the end of March, we are requesting that you have your post in our hands a week before the publishing date.

Requested By: This is the point person for the post

Author: This is who will be writing the post

Formatted By: This is who will be formatting the post for WordPress. This is the person who should receive your post.

 

We will have April’s schedule started by the end of the week. There are many slots available, make sure to request your spot now!

Jayson Bradley

NEW: Project Status & Priority Levels

Hi Marketing Team,

We have a massive amount of work flowing through our department at any given time and the priorities change rapidly. Phil and Nathan have asked the marketing leads to make sure they are aware of every project that we’re working on. On a weekly basis the leadership team will be looking at all projects that have come into our department and will set priorities for them to make sure we’re all working on the most important projects.

This means that the Wiki is becoming even more important because it is the only place where we can see every project that is going on.

1)      Every project needs to have a Wiki page. Nathan has asked Design and MarTech to push back if there isn’t a Wiki associated with a project*

2)      We’re making some changes to the way we use the project status field on the Wiki

  1. Triage: every new project needs the status set to triage. Management will determine whether we need to do it now or later. The templates should all be set to triage. Please do not change this.
  2. Pending: once a project has been triaged, if Phil and Nathan want it to be worked on now, we’ll changed the status to pending, assign it to someone to own and assign a priority level.
  3. Active: once you start working on a project that has been assigned to you, you’ll need to change the status to Active. All active projects should have a priority level assigned to them.
  4. d.      OnHold: we will no longer be using this status
  5. Backlog: Backlog projects are ones that we have decided not to work on at this time. We will be changing these Wiki pages so that they are not assigned to owners, but are instead assigned to areas of ownership. When a backlogged project is ready to be worked on  it will move to pending (if no work has been done yet) or to active (if some work was done on it before it was backlogged).

3)      We’re adding priority level to every Active project on the Wiki: [[projectPriority::]]

1: On Fire

2: Do now

3: Do later

*We still differentiate between a task and a project.

  • Tasks: A task is something that needs to get done that is isolated to a single individual or a single “thing”. If something requires more than one individual to be involved, or has multiple steps, then it is not a task it is a project. Tasks can exist outside of projects. These do NOT require a Wiki.
  • Projects: A project is a collection of tasks. These require a Wiki.
  • Bugs: Things that are broken on websites, landing pages, in software, etc. These do NOT require a Wiki.

For webpage updates: If it is changing the design or structure of a page it is a project. If it is content it is a task.

Product Team: This change does not apply to sku Projects and Sermon Archive Projects.

Who’s My Boss?

From: Phil Gons
To: Marketing Dept

As I stressed in our department meeting last month, it’s important that you understand who your boss/supervisor/manager is (yes, I’m using those interchangeably). Most of you probably have a team lead and a manager. While your team lead is likely more involved in overseeing your day-to-day work, your supervisor is your boss.

For now, your boss is either Nathan Elson, Nick Kelly, or I. Even if you’re confident you know who your boss is, please take a moment to find your name on http://wiki/Marketing_Supervisors. Then make sure your personal wiki page accurately reflects that.

Thanks!

Phil