September 16, 2020
Henry Mintzberg once said, “Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet.”1 I believe this quote eloquently summarizes the work of a project manager. In this blog we will explore the art, science and craft involved with effectively leading and managing a team through project management best practices.
The art of project management is in the details, having a clear timeline and objective will help keep the team on track and aligned to the end goal.
1. First, it is important to establish ground rules for file naming and internal reviews. Having a set structure in place will allow you to move team members through the project based on resourcing capacity. This will also enable everyone to be well versed across your client portfolio.
2. Next, it is important to have a communication tool that is agreed upon by the entire team. This will help avoid conflict, provide a record of work, and communicate the same message to all. With the increase in remote teams, Slack and Microsoft Teams have become critical to business communications and distributing messages.
3. Finally, understanding your team’s capacity and bandwidth will be important to making sure each project is properly staffed. If a team member is too overwhelmed by projects, this can create a bottleneck and ultimately jam up a project. Having a way to view the team’s capacity will help make business level decisions for hiring and project distribution.
The art of project management is in the details, with the right organizational and communication tools, your team can be up and running in no time. Whereas, the science of the project is rooted in the project manager’s understanding of emotional intelligence.
When working in a team, many personality drivers can make or break a team. The ultimate goal of a project manager is to steer the team in the right direction while executing the end result while also keeping the internal team aligned. To do this effectively requires a high degree of emotional intelligence.
Dan Goleman2, the father of Emotional Intelligence, outlines emotional intelligence as having five key elements: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Understanding how these work in harmony will help develop you into a better project manager as well as an integral team player. From a project manager perspective, emotional intelligence will become extremely important as you deal with deadlines and client edits. Acknowledging and understanding the tough road ahead will not only encourage your team but also motivate them to help contribute to the end goal, delivering your project on time and on budget.
Agile is a process by which a team can manage a project by breaking it up into several stages and involving constant collaboration with stakeholders and continuous improvement and iteration at every stage.
Projects are then broken into four key events: sprint planning, daily scrums, sprint reviews, and sprint retrospectives. Each of these steps helps the team align on the goals and objectives for each phase:
1. In the sprint planning event, the team determines the initial plan and sets up the steps that it will take to get there.
2. Next, daily scrums are a cadence of meetings that will cover off on urgent steps, plans for the day and red flags. Scrums are critical for projects with multiple workstreams as they will make sure that all team member are on the same page about deliverables and next steps.
3. Sprint reviews will review and iterate on the work that was done during that sprint period. Traditionally, sprints are broken into two-week intervals and will gauge the effort and work that is completed in that time period.
4. Finally, the sprint retrospective occurs after the sprint review and prior to the next sprint planning session. This meeting tends to be a longer meeting as its purpose is to discuss what went well, what could be improved, and what can be committed to and improved for the next sprint. This will help the team encompass and establish a feedback loop for continuous improvement.
Overall, agile scrum works because there is continuous conversation among the team working at a quick pace to execute on deliverables in a timely manner.
As this blog comes to a close, I will leave you with this quote by David Ogilvy3, “The success of a meeting often depends on having the right documents - proofs, artwork, schedules, research charts, etc. – present at the start of the meeting. All too often we arrive like plumbers, leaving our tools behind”. With the right tools and a blend of art, science, and craft, you can turn your project into a masterpiece.
Written and submitted by Ericka Patten, Project Manager, Employee Experience - Ogilvy