This year's Web of Change conference included a session with Rob Purdie of Important Projects on values-based project management. Here are my notes on the session, which focused on collaboratively sharing tactics for boosting the various aspects of organizational culture that support effective project work.
Success of any project can be judged by 2 criteria:
1. were the objectives met?
2. did the team find the work itself rewarding?
Projects not going well has to do with not having a project friendly environment
What is a project?
A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to produce a unique product, service or result.
ALL PROJECTS HAVE:
– objectives: the things the project is unertaken to achieve
– deliverables: what project will produce in order to achieve objectives:
– requirements: qualities deliverables must have/criteria deliverables must meet in order to achieve objectives
– constraints: that project must be delivered within [time/scope/cost] (the iron triangle) [scope=quality]
Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project objectives.
On good projects, people take the time to define objectives.
Org culture is the river; the project is the boat.
If org culture is flowing smoothly, you just have to steer the boat; otherwise you're driving upstream
Projects involve risks, so risk-averse organizations will have trouble
With problematic culture you need more money, and more authority as project manager
Build a project-friendly environment, at least within the project team.
Build a culture of personal empowerment and risk-taking.
WHY PROJECTS DON'T GO WELL….
b/c of a set of assumptions that turn out not to be accurate
confusing the politics of anti-hierarchy with the need to get shit done
WHAT MAKES A GOOD PROJECT MANAGER?
– people skills: being able to listen and communicate well; need to manage expectations and explain things clearly so all sides understand; integrating into project culture is all about people skills
– they need to be bright and flexible and quick and adaptable and know how to talk to people
– persistence: keep coming back for the piece of info they need
– do they need to be values aligned?
Need balance between outputs and processes (ends and means)
Don't burn people out.
Cross-functional integration is valued
Risk taking is supported
High conflict tolerance; need to be able to engage in healthy conflict; a meeting with no conflict is not valuable
Value open and honest communication; respect for one another
5 groups: (how to build each)
Personal empowerment — grow our teams so people feel empowered. Everyone wants to contribute their best work (whether they know it or not). When people feel frustrated it's b/c they feel blocked. How can we remove things that get in way of allowing people to contribute their best work?
Trust — need closure in communications as pro-active way of building trust. Whenever I have a conversation with anyone about anything i want to know who is doing what by when. If you can do that with every conversation, nobody is going back to their desk wondering if the other person is going to be doing the thing that needs to be done for me to do my work.
Respect — what are some specific tactics for instilling this in group. Being late is disrespectful.
- Buy-in. Are you going to stick with the project through hard times?
- What is everybody's standard of excellence?
- Commitment is a great quality for organizers, but it's different in a project context.
- Can't focus on the meta-level of commitment at every project level — objective of producing the brochure can't be saving the world.
- Project has a beginning and an end.
- Commitment can be to doing a great job, to saving the world….but need a long-term theory of change.
- Need to make sure we continue to find projects that the team finds meaningful. Team wants to be happy as well as paid.
- Make sure that the projects speak to the values of the people I'm working with.
- What projects you're choosing — projects can be aligned with a range of values. When does choice of project become strategic — not just about feeling good about the projects you're doing.
- Can someone who's not values aligned authentically serve the role of supporting other people's values.
- Think of this as irrigation: project manager is irrigating the growing plants — the people who are trying to get the job done.
- You are serving a group of people who really care about this —
- How can you transform someone into excitement about this value of promoting social change?
- Ask them: are you interested in transforming?
- Commitment builds trust.
- If you do what you say you're going to do — you make a commitment — that builds trust. If you can't fulfill a commitment you've made, you go back to people and tell them you can't make it and tell them when you can meet them.
- Staff commit to timelines but then don't meet it. People commit to overly amibitious timelines as a way of proving their commitment.
- PMsÂ need to ASK, rather than tell, when something can be completed.
- Time estimates should be offered by the person doing the work.
- Need to create a culture of honesty about how long things will take.
- Projects are always in a longer/larger context.
- Overcommitment — working overtime — as a sign of commitment. Burn-out as a sign of commitment.
- Sometimes the culture can be great, but people are just wrong about how long something will take.
– need to be engaged in planning
– how to embed project into longterm goals of org — creating a culture
– establishing groundrules; closure on all conversations — who is doing what by when; clearly defining roles & responsibilities; including play in project activities to build trust
– project debriefs to make transparent what was broken
– Quakers: creating formats for appreciation — framing contributions in ways that are around appreciating fellow team members' work
– book: The art of possibilities
– tied to trust, communication and accountability
– clear expectations about individual expectations
– what everyone is responsible for as a team member
– groundrules for ccing people, lateness
– here are the ground rules we're going to stick by
– issues board: every specific period — if you're feeling disrespected , there's a way to bring that up
– respecting what client brings, client respecting what shop brings
– proactively handle team by getting to know how they handle conflict
– establish ground rules
– separate problem from person — give people a sense that the objectives are the enemy, not the people on the team
– clarity of objectives
– remember that decision-makers aren't the same as the implementers
– create culture with open feedback channel
– bilateral clarity of expectations — client needs to be accountable for their inputs
– bioteaming manifestos
– distributed teams
I'm besotted with Facebook. I can see it becoming the primary way that I — and many other people — interact online. So if you aren't on Facebook already, join now. Now.
Still here? Don't tell me, you need actual reasons to join. Fine, here goes:
- It's huge, and it's growing. While Facebook started as a network for college students, it opened up to anyone who wanted to join in September 2006, and grew more than 75% — to almost 25 million users — by February. I haven't found numbers more recent than that, but I can say that between 1-3 people in my own personal address book (1500 email addresses) are joining every day.
- Your friends are already there. If you import/connect to your address book when you sign up , you'll discover all the folks you know who are already on Facebook. This is a great way to keep in touch with them. You can even find out who in your universe is already on Facebook, before you sign up yourself.
- It mixes business with pleasure. Unlike LinkedIn, which feels like some sort of massive rÃ©sumÃ© swap, Facebook brings a personal side to its user interactions. More than half of my Facebook friends are colleagues or professional acquaintances, and now I'm finding out about their personal passions as well as their professional pursuits.
- It's one-stop shopping. Facebook offers blogging, photo sharing, messaging, web-to-mobile communications, social networking, and groups.
- It's a window on your world. Once you've added your contacts to your list of Facebook friends, your Facebook home page will be the best place on the web for you to find out what's going on with the folks you know. My favourite part of Facebook — the thing that makes it truly addictive — is checking in to see what's going on with all my friends and groups. I can see my friends' latest status reports, their latest new friends and groups, their notes, their photos….all in one place. The best way to get how cool this is is to take a look, but I don't think I can really share a screenshot because that would mean sharing details on my friends' activities. And that underlines what is so great about the Facebook feed: it feels far more personal than what you'd normally see on the wide open web.
- It's pretty. God knows, I've fallen in love with my share of social media tools, but most of them have required me to look past a barebones or even downright ugly interface in order to appreciate the inner beauty of content sharing, social networking, or whatever. In contrast, Facebook has a very polished interface.
- It can help you connect with your community. Facebook has now got an API — application programming interface — that lets people extend Facebook with all sorts of little applications and enhancements. (Check out some of the options so far.) And that API is going to see Facebook integrated into more and more 3rd party sites. If you find it easier to connect with your members, supporters, customers or friends on Facebook than to lure them into registering on your own site (and for most organizations, it will be MUCH easier to connect via Facebook) you need to start thinking now about how you can integrate Facebook's community and functionality into your own site.
I'll have more to say about Facebook — and especially about the options for integrating Facebook with external web communities — in the coming weeks. But if you want to understand why this matters, you need to join Facebook now. And once you do, be sure to add me as a friend!
We're often approached by business and nonprofit organizations who are interested in tapping the power of the social web but don't know where to start, or how to get a feel for the possibilities. I'm delighted to be co-teaching a Hollyhock-in-Vancouver workshop next month that will be a great opportunity for Vancouver-based organizations to get smart about Web 2.0:
Web 2.0 and your organizationÂ
Are you interested in how online communities like Flickr, MySpace, and YouTube can empower your members and customers to carry your message out into the world? Could your organization benefit from deeper collaboration among your team members, clients, partners or the public? Could better knowledge-sharing, stronger relationships and closer communications inside your organization and with your core supporters foster more efficiency, insight and effectiveness?
The latest generation of "Web 2.0" or social web strategies and tools offer powerful opportunities for organizations to improve the way they work, communicate their messages, empower others, and serve the public. In this workshop you will learn how the latest tools for online collaboration and community building can make your organization smarter and more effective.
This workshop is designed for communications strategists, marketing managers, and webmasters who are interested in how this evolution of the web can help evolve your organization's online strategy. We will give you the tools, knowledge, and most crucially, the vision for how your organization can use the web as a stronger agent of change. Weâ€™ll also cover the nuts-and-bolts, introducing the latest tools so that you know which options are most promising for your needs.
About the presenters: Jason Mogus is the CEO of Communicopia, which has helped progressive companies and non-profits communicate and collaborate via the web for 13 years. Jason is also the founder of Web of Change at Hollyhock. Alexandra Samuel, PhD (Harvard), is CEO of Social Signal, and is helping some of the web's most ambitious community ecosystems use the social web to support dialogue and collaboration.
This workshop is co-sponsored by the Hollyhock Leadership Institute, Web of Change, Social Signal, Communicopia, Social Tech Brewing, and Impacs.
Visit the Hollyhock site, call 800-933-6339 x232, or e-mail registration[at]hollyhock.ca
We’re just back from two days in Houston as the guests of ttweak, a marketing, communications and design firm that shares our belief that authentic, original voices are the best way to convey a message. ttweak’s best-known work is probably their Houston It’s Worth It campaign, but their extensive and varied experience also includes a number of video projects that let interview subjects, rather than narrators, tell the story. ttweak principals Randy Twaddle and Dave Thompson proved to us that Houston is indeed worth it, not only for the food (mmm, bbq. I mean mmm, Mexican. I mean, mmm, Cajun.) but even more notably for the almost unbelievably friendly people.
While we were in Houston we had the opportunity to meet with a number of ttweak’s clients, all of whom reinforced our impression that Randy and Dave have mastered the art of bottom-up marketing campaigns — and did so long before us johnny-come-latelys in the Web 2.0 world started yakking on about user-generated content. Here’s some of the wisdom we gleaned from their example and their advice:
- Let participants speak for themselves. Don’t drown out original voices with heavy-handed narration or moderation.
- Remain tool agnostic. If your goal is to convey a message, you’ll need to choose a different medium depending on the message you’re delivering.
- Production values matter. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that people will see past your barebones interface to appreciate the depth or brilliant of your feature set. Appearance counts.
- Invest in your local community. Even if your business has a national or international reach, a solid reputation with clients in your own city provides a bedrock for growth.
- Build relationships with your client’s entire team. During one client visit, we saw how ttweak’s introduction counted with the CEO — but we also saw Dave on hugging terms with the parking valet. We got a warm reception in the boardroom — and a warm car waiting outside when we were done.
- Client service is the surest way to grow a business. Resist the temptation to cash in by focusing on a single hot product, or cash out by selling your company to the highest bidder.
- Do what you’re great at. Over-reaching is the surest way to burn your client — and your brand.
We’re excited to work with a company that realizes Web 2.0 values of user engagement in all of its work. And thanks again to Randy and Dave for introducing us to their wonderful city!
Does your organizational structure support web innovation or inhibit it? Social Signal's first podcast will help you learn how to make the most of your own team's structure from the web strategists at two very different nonprofits: Corrie Frasier, Online Communications Manager for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Jed Miller, Director of Internet programs for the American Civil Liberties Union. Corrie a
Does your organizational structure support web innovation or inhibit it? Learn how to make the most of your own team's structure from the web strategists at two very different nonprofits: Corrie Frasier, Online Communications Manager for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Jed Miller, Director of Internet programs for the American Civil Liberties Union. In this, the first edition of the Social Signal podcast, Corrie and Jed talk about everything from how to get senior buy-in to your web strategy, to how interdepartmental cooperation helped the ACLU respond effectively to NSA spying.
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And the tagging obsession continues. Thanks to Travis Smith for pointing me towards Larry Borsato’s comments on why we don’t tag our desktop. His post is a response to Kevin Briody’s call to tag your desktop. Kevin asks:
Why can’t we tag documents? And file shares? And intranet sites? Then tag communications: emails, Messenger contacts, […]