The 2016 Digital Project Management conference – DPM:UK

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The opening talk was certainly inspirational.

When I first read the title “You can do well, or you can do good” I was thinking: is there really much difference? If you do something well, that’s good right? But it wasn’t long in to the talk when I realised how naive that statement was.

In order to get across his point, Sam told us a story of his past where he was brought into a project that was under priced with a unrealistic deadline for the work needed. When he piped up about the issues he saw coming, his boss dismissed his concerns and told him to be more positive.

Of course the time came when the client needed to be updated about the project, and although Sam knew it was not going to be ready he followed the instructions of his senior and assured the client it would be ready for the deadline. His boss came out the meeting happy, the client came out the meeting happy and he had done well. But far from good.

Needless to say, the project went from bad to worse and Sam informed us it didn’t actually reach completion.

Taking from the lesson he learnt here, we were encouraged not to do this. Not to be a DPM (Digital Project Manager) drone and say what we think will make others happy, but speak up and defend our integrity. Which is definitely easier said than done, especially when what your speaking up about could possibly loose you your job.

Something that did sink in with me was a question he told us to ask ourselves when we find we are heading down the easy route, instead of the “good” route: As a DPM, who should you be loyal to? Answer: The project & yourself. Always keep your integrity and be sure that what you are thinking, saying and doing is best for the project. It is easy to put off hard conversations, but its never good.

Honesty – There was a very strong message of how honesty is the best policy throughout the many great talks. And I could not agree more. Yes it may sting a little to be so straight with a client, and they might not like it, but it is definitely the right thing to do. As long as you are consistent and forthright from the start (of course in an empathetic and respectful way) they will respect you back for it… and maybe even understand.

To re-iterate this with my own experiences, this is a snippet from an email I received just last week from a new client of ours at iWeb:

“I just wanted to say thank you for telling me that I’m going down the wrong path with this. I like that.
Sometimes I get excited about ways of doing things even if they aren’t realistic and I do need to be told to stop being so silly. You and I are going to work well together.”

So don’t be scared, and remember whoever it is you are delivering that uncomfortable truth to, they are only human just like you.

I could write so much more about what I soaked up from the conference. All of the talks were truly inspirational, thought provoking and informative – but you aren’t here to read a play by play of each talk… so I have pulled out a few key points from my notes that I believe to be little advice gems;

  • Bored of the same old Lorem Ipsum? Never fear Samuel L Ipsum is here.
  • Learn from everyone.
  • Be humble and admit your flaws.
  • Pick your battles.
  • Maintain your integrity.
  • Celebrate project completion
  • If its not urgent, you should probably let it go.
  • Don’t feed the jerks.
  • Technical debt leads to waste. Don’t let it sit building interest.
  • Find out how your team really feels (moraleapp.com)
  • Under promise & over deliver.
  • The client is not always right.
  • Get to know your clients and your team.
  • Happy team = happy client.
  • Manage tasks – lead people.
  • Ask “what if?”
  • Eat that frog.
  • Waterfall doesn’t work? Agile isn’t right? Hybrid it up.
  • If you fail, fail fast and move on.
  • Project managers are like oxygen – taken for granted right up to the moment its gone.
  • Project management is like sweeping up after elephants, only less glamorous.
  • I am not an accident.
  • People are gross… don’t touch them.
  • Be a loveable hardass.

Quote of the day:

“The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.”
– Elbert Hubbard

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