Project management for beginners

Interesting thread going on Slashdot about PM for beginners. Making things happen gets a nice mention.

Surprising number of mentions of PMI and PSP and other heavy processes I wouldn’t expect to hear so fast from the Slashdot crowd: Project management for beginners.

It’s funny but I still am baffled by the threading and conversation UI at slashdot. I’ve been there dozens of times but still it’s beyond me.

Anyway, I posted a response, but it’s buried so deep I doubt you’ll find it without magic powers so here it is:

Here’s my 3 (ok 6) steps for getting started before buying a book or doing anything else:

  1. I’d recommend talking to your team, individually, about what things on the project are most frustrating or could be improved.
  2. In each conversation ask for their advice on what you can do, and also what they are willing to do or try.
  3. Based on your conversations, propose one simple change that has the best odds of both being accepted, and improving things. If the team has lots of conflicts, pick something very small. If there is too much dissension, pick something you can do with just one or two others.
  4. Then make the change.
  5. If things go poorly go back to #1.
  6. If things go well, propose the next thing from #3.

But without talking to your team, and without establishing credibility and leadership, no book, degree, or IQ, will be of any use to you as a project manager. Start with your team first and earn their trust.

5 Responses to “Project management for beginners”

  1. Alan

    Hopefully it’ll get modded up – I put a link to it and noted that it was “official.”

    Part of the secret of reading Slashdot threads may be changing how you’re viewing them. Frequently if you’re not a regular slashdotter then you should change your view preferences to a threshold of 3 or 4 (most regular users post at a level of 2 by default, below 2 are new users, “anonymous cowards” and posts rated down for trolling or irrelevance). You might also want to change the style from Threaded to Nested.

  2. Scott Berkun

    Yeah, I realized after the fact posting as anonymous coward wasn’t going to help any :)

    But the truth is I was more a lazy bastard than an anonymous coward. I was happy to be named, just not happy to have to create an account to do so.

  3. Dan

    I like this approach. It makes it super clear what the next step is and why you’re doing it.

    I think most of the breakdowns in a process occur when the steps of progression are too big and people don’t see a relevance between step X and Y. Or maybe there’s really three or four steps between X and Y that nobody realizes.

    And when step Y is done people involved are ill-equipped and have to wing it, and often forget about previous decisions. Then you just end up re-hashing old stuff over and over again.

    Sometimes it’s good to be fast, but sometimes it’s faster to be slow.

    (Have a video of this I haven’t uploaded it yet… Rats!)

  4. Dan

    Oh snap. I do have it uploaded. Less than two minutes –



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