Project Management

I believe that the most important  part of project management is the process of creating the plan, i.e. the conversation that happens between team members, rather than the artifact (deliverable) of the finished plan itself.

Seth Godin just eliminated the need for all of those project management courses and certifications. He has captured the essense of the conversation that is necessary to do project management.

Managing the vague

Marketing projects are almost always vague.
They almost always involve people who aren’t your direct reports.
And they almost always use people who have other stuff on their plate.

(this, btw, is very different than running a factory, where all three things above are never true).

So, here are three questions I’d challenge every person working on any marketing project to ask. Ask them whenever someone gives you a task.

–when is this due?
–what does it look like when it’s done?
–how important is it compared to everything else on my plate?

Rigor isn’t pretty, but sometimes it enables communication.

Thanks Seth. I am sure the Project Management Institute won’t be happy.


Paul Graham just posted an essay on "Inequality and Risk". His primary theme is that all the talk about eliminating economic inequality may sound moral and righteous, but it is not supportive of a healthy economic system. It is a fairly long, well-developed essay, but the interesting part to me is an argument near the end:

  Demand    transparency.  Watch closely how power is exercised, and demand an account of how decisions are made.

This is very much in line with my thinking about how a well-run organization should operate, with full transparancy, which can be best achieved through conversation.

Inside Conversations?

I am a self-styled student of how groups of people work together. I bring to this endeavor over 20 years as a wage-earner, a business degree, and about 8 years of reading literature on organizational dynamics, systems, chaos theory, and anything else that struck my fancy. Most of this reading has been business management books, but more recently web sites and blogs.

In this time I have achieved a few insights. Unfortunately most of these insights are somewhat disjointed and eclectic. One objective of this blog is to help me put those thoughts down in some sort of a permanent record so that I can revisit them every so often to see where the linkages exist (this has much to do with being over 40, the memory thing…). Secondly, I hope this blog allows me to share my thoughts, to the end of generating an authentic conversation with anyone who cares to engage in a dialogue.

As this forum moves forward, I intend to find others that have ideas and/or philosophies that align with my own.

What do I mean by "Inside Conversation"? First, I find the concept of conversations to be a compelling metaphor for the most effective form of communication that can exist within an organization. Most people are probably familiar with the typical "corporate communications" efforts: Powerpoint decks, town hall meetings, broadcast voicemail, … the list goes on. Unfortunately almost all of this is about pushing information out to the masses, trying to control the message, believing that each employee (member, whatever) is just waiting for any crumb of information from the powers on high. …clueless… There needs to be a true exchange of information, true authenticity for corporate communication to have any real relavence. Both sides must listen! This to me is what a conversation is all about, listening. I have therefore chosen "conversation" to be the driving theme of this blog.

The "inside" part means that I want to focus on how this conversation should happen within a specific community as opposed to the public in general. Many others are out there talking about engagement between companies and customers. No need to go there, at least not yet. I want to be a little more focused, dealing with what happens within the boundries of a system.

This is the start, let’s see if I can make this fun and interesting (for me at least!).