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July 25, 2017 - No Comments!

Project Management for Humans

Project Management for Humans by Brett HarnedI'm very pleased to announce that my book Project Management for Humans is now available for purchase. Its official release was on July 20, and it is available on Amazon and through Rosenfeld Media.

You have no idea how great it felt to write that. As I am sure you've heard, writing a book is no easy feat. But it was one that I wanted to take on, and I was lucky enough to find a publisher who would support me in that endeavor. In all, it was about a year in the works: writing, rewriting, rethinking, brainstorming, sketching, discussing, and so on. It was a lot of work, but I'm happy with the outcome. And I hope you will be too.

 

Why write a book?

I've said it before: I stumbled into project management. In fact, my background is in writing and editorial. I've always loved writing. Before starting this blog, I was writing personal stories on another platform. It was an outlet to tell stories, be myself, and express my creativity. But when I started this blog, I really dedicated my professional life to sharing my thoughts, ideas, and experiences to advance digital project management. And I enjoyed it.

In many ways, creating this website helped to build my confidence to write a book. With over six years of content built up and published in various places, it felt like writing a book was a good next step.

Another PM book?

Trust me, I know that there are a lot of project management books on the market. I actually know a number of authors and have read their books. And they are great! The reason I decided to tackle the subject is because I thought I could add a new perspective to the topic. My book focuses in on how we are all project managers. While I'm obviously an advocate of project managers, I'm also an advocate of project management skills. I believe that the skills that PMs dedicate their careers to honing should actually be learned by most professionals. By having a basic understanding of scoping, estimating, process, and communications, we can be better, more productive team members--and project managers.

The only way to draw non-project managers into a book like this is by showing how the practice of project management isn't rigid, and it's certainly not just a tool. It's human-based, and we all can do it. My way of relating PM to everyone is through my own personal experiences. At the beginning of each chapter, I dive in with a personal, mostly non-work stories to illustrate how basic project management concepts come up in everyday life. I wrote stories that I think are relatable not only to readers, but to the content of each chapter. Plus, Deb Aoki was able to illustrate the ideas and bring them to life.

I also reached out to a group of friends and colleagues to share their own stories in the book. These are more project-related, focused on issues they've faced. I found these stories helpful in that they are relatable and helpful, because we've all faced issues on projects. And hearing an expert's approach to solving them can be invaluable.

These stories, combined with instructional content, templates, and resources, make this book a little different from the rest. And I'm excited about that.

What's next?

First, we celebrate. I'm hosting a book launch party with DPM Philly on Thursday, July 27. If you're in the area and would like to celebrate with me, please come out. We're expecting mix of DPM Philly members, industry friends, and of course, family. We'll be giving out a limited number of books, and we'll have some food on hand. It should be a good time!

Because I have been so focused on writing a book for the past year, I've written less here and for other publications. But I'm not done. In fact, I feel like I am just getting started. I'm working on a couple of writing projects and have been contributing to the new Bureau of Digital blog regularly. I've also got a few article ideas on my to do list, and a new podcast to produce. Oh, and I'm gearing up for the 5th annual Digital PM Summit. I'll be hosting the event and a brand new workshop in Las Vegas this October.

I'm also working hard to grow my consulting business, and am always looking for clients to partner with to improve project management practices. If you know someone in need of some outside help, send them my way.

 

February 1, 2016 - 3 comments

Principles for Digital Project Management

“How did I get here?”

It’s a question many project managers ask themselves. Most of us fell into this. One job led to another, then maybe we realized that we were good at organizing rather than designing or coding. The term the industry uses is “accidental project manager,” but that sounds a tad too aimless to me. You see, we may have fallen into this, but it sure as hell was no accident. We’re here because we’re needed.

Personally, I never planned to be here. But I’m sure happy I made it. At different points in my life, I thought I was going to be a doctor. Or maybe an editor. Because those are related in some way, right? Wrong. I had no real direction until I got into digital. But that’s okay! A lot of digital project managers end up in the field because they had to gain some real experience in a professional setting to realize the fact that they were meant to be project managers.

So we’re here. But where are we going?

We’ve established the fact that our teams need us. We stress over the details, large and small. We make connections, facilitate discussions, and always hope for the best. Some of us are good, some are bad. It’s the same with any profession. But for some reason, our colleagues get stuck on the bad ones and drag us good DPMs down. We’ve got to change that—and we will. In fact, we’re chipping away at making a name for this role. We’ve even started to talk about it. In fact, we’re five years into this whole “DPM community” thing. What do we have to show for it? Well, let me tell you:

  • A growing community of like-minded people who are eager to talk about the things that matter to them (just search #dpm #dpm2015 #dpmuk #pmot and other Twitter hashtags to find a couple of the conversations.
  • A growing network of blogs written by the brightest people in the field. Check out the musings of Carson Pierce, Natalie Semczuk, Holly Davis, and more.
  • Dozens of meet ups. They’re popping up in cities everywhere! DC, Phoenix, Manchester, Stockholm, Philadelphia, Minneapolis…the list goes on and on. If there isn’t one in your city, make it happen.
  • Conferences: The Digital PM Summit started it all and inspired other events like DPM:UK, and a couple of others you might see pop up this year. That’s an exciting hint, huh?
  • Support from others within our industry. Before, we were invited to their design and UX events. Now they’re invited to ours.

That’s a pretty great start, but it’s not enough. If we want to be better—do better—we have to make some changes. And it’s not just about connecting with one another and talking about what we do. It’s about filling a gap.

What’s missing?

Well, folks, we’re missing  one critical thing. A thread to tie us together and make us stronger professionally: Standards. You see, we’re all operating on different planes as digital project managers. We’re approaching the job with differences in experience, practice, and attitude. This is to be expected in some ways, but if we want to strengthen the perceptions of the role and genuinely solidify this community, we have to show a unified front of what it means to be a digital PM.

I’m not suggesting that we all operate using a set of the same templates. In fact, that would be horrible. I’m suggesting that we all operate under the same principles. Think of it as a manifesto for how we, as DPMs, present ourselves to the world.

Army of Awesome Slide

Check out the slides from my presentation. These include the first five principles.

I unveiled the first five of those principles at my DPM:UK keynote on January 28. These principles are short statements that describe who we are as DPMs. Within each principle are some core working functions. For example, we are consummate learners and teachers. Every day in our jobs, we are almost forced to keep up with new technologies, processes, and practices. We learn as much about those things so that we can support our teams and projects to create amazing products. At the same time, we take every opportunity to teach our clients and colleagues about what we’ve learned. This isn’t something I’m making up—this is what we do. I expanded more in the presentation, of course, but that should illustrate the idea for you. And just in case you don't want to check out the slides, here are the first five:

  1. We are Chaos Junkies
  2. We are Multilingual Communicators
  3. We are Loveable Hardasses
  4. We are Consummate Learners & Teachers
  5. We are Pathfinders

Check out the slides to see some supporting content. And, soon, I'll link to the video of the talk, because the fine folks at Manchester Digital recorded all of the sessions.

 

Be Heard.

2016-01-28 17.26.56At the end of the session, I asked the audience to share what they thought would be good additions to the principles.  The response was great and varied. I saw everything from "We Are Always On" to "We Are the Glue" and many others. This input is very valuable to me. See, I don’t think this is just up to me. I can’t (and shouldn’t) dictate a bunch of principles and expect you to adopt them. So let’s do this together.  If you want to impact this change for our community, for our work, take part.

All you have to do is fill in the blank:

WE ARE _________.

Tweet your answer with the hashtag #weareDPM and share it with the community. From there, I’ll build these principles and share them with the community. This could come in the form of a document, book chapter, blog post, etc. Whatever it is, it’s going to be awesome—because of you.

 

The first version of this article was posted to Every Day DPM on January 28, 2016 (the day I gave the talk).

August 4, 2015 - No Comments!

The Argument for Project Management

There are so many intangible tasks and qualities of project managers that it’s not uncommon for people to not fully understand their worth. In fact, the value or lack thereof has been discussed ad nauseum on several blogs, within companies, and at events. As a project manager, I’m always interested to hear the reasons why someone would question the value of the role. After all. I’m trying to stand up for the community of people who are good project managers. Within just a few minutes of any conversation about the value of PM, I have found that it’s all about perception, or maybe just a miscommunication. That’s right: PM is in fact not worthless! But the way a company operates, or a single person can affect that point of view. So how do I flip that argument on its’ head?

This is another article that I wrote for Team Gantt. Read the rest on the TeamGantt Blog.