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The Project Communications Game

Brett Harned
October 07, 2014

The Project Communications Game

Projects can feel like a game: Deliver a winning idea and take two steps forward. Miss a deadline and suddenly you’re back to square one. Sometimes it’s the luck of the draw, but in the game of projects you mostly you have to be a motivated team player with excellent communication skills to win.

Brett’s session will explore the game-like steps of a digital project and the communication wins and pitfalls that come with being positioned in the center of an internal and client team. Roll the dice to see what comes next in the project game as Brett takes on awkward conversations, team conflict, poorly written project updates, unhappy clients, and more. Everyone will win with a series of tips, exercises, and tactics on how to navigate your own Game of Project.

Brett Harned

October 07, 2014

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  1. LEAD HAPPY TRAILS You’re working with a new set of

    stakeholders who have never worked on a digital project. It’s up to you to help them understand your team’s work. Get going, partner!
  2. The First Meeting • Set the tone for the project

    • Discuss preferred modes of communication • Review your scope together • Talk about your teams and roles and responsibilities • Always communicate next steps
  3. Who Are the Stakeholders? • Project Owner/Core Team • Primary

    Stakeholders • Secondary Stakeholders • Management • Executive
  4. Stakeholder Interviews • Attend them and take notes • Suggest

    questions to be included • Dig deeper on: • Project goals • Team dynamics • Potential issues and risks
  5. WELL DONE! You did your research, so you now know

    your project stakeholders. Now try keeping them wrangled…
  6. Quick Note-taking Tips • Stick to keywords and phrases •

    Write notes in your own words (not verbatim) • Record key points, decisions, action items • Use the tool that is right for you • Text Expansion • Evernote • Post notes to all attendees and make them editable
  7. FIX THIS ONE! Aw shucks! Your team abandoned Basecamp for

    Google Drive. It feels like you’re missing project details. Sort that out, partner.
  8. – Joseph Priestley “The more elaborate our means of communication,

    the less we communicate." 18th century chemist and clergyman
  9. R. A. C. I. (Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed) Project 

    Manager Designer Developer Content 
 Strategist Creative Brief A R I C HTML Wireframes I A R C Style Tiles I R C A Content Recommendations I A C R
  10. – The New Science of Building Great Teams by Alex

    “Sandy” Pentland, Harvard Business Review, April 2012 “If we look at our evolutionary history, we can see that language is a relatively recent development and was most likely layered upon older signals that communicated dominance, interest, and emotions among humans. Today these ancient patterns of communication still shape how we make decisions and coordinate work among ourselves.”
  11. – Greg Hoy, The Backchannel Consumes Us All
 https://the-pastry-box-project.net/greg-hoy/ 2014-september-17

    “The backchannel can all-too-easily erode trust and compromise relationships.”
  12. NICE ROUND UP! Team communications can be challenging to round

    up. If you keep cool, set basic guidelines, and adapt your style accordingly, you’ll ride off into the sunset.
  13. "The best predictors of productivity were a team’s energy and

    engagement outside formal meetings.” – The New Science of Building Great Teams by Alex “Sandy” Pentland, Harvard Business Review, April 2012
  14. GIT YER LASSO OUT! You just received written feedback from

    the clients.
 •5 stakeholders love the design. •3 hate it. •2 haven’t weighed in yet. ! Your team is upset and your clients are confused.
  15. MOVIN’ ON Project decision making can get tough, If you

    set boundaries and communicate clearly, you’ll meet deadline and budgets,
  16. MEETING MASSACRE! You tried Skype, but the audio failed. You

    moved to Google Hangouts and that quit on you. Twice. So you went to the phone, but by that point, half the attendees gave up. Your meeting was a Ghost Town.
  17. How To Decide if You Need a Meeting • Goals

    of the meeting • Attendees • Success factors • Timing: today, tomorrow, next week? • Length of the meeting • Agenda
  18. SAVED! Meetings can be a challenge! If handled improperly, they

    can halt project progress. You can make them GREAT if you lasso in all of the details and make it worth while.
  19. GOOD MOVE! Your team and clients give you bonus points

    for being honest and holding off on answering a question suited for a developer.
  20. BOOT THE SCOPE CREEP You’ve delivered the site and the

    client says, “This feature is not working the way we expected.” ! What they want is going to take 2 additional weeks to complete and the scope is questionable.
  21. Articulate Effort • Dissect the issue or feature • Discuss

    goals • Determine impacts • Budget • Timeline • Show your estimates, be transparent
  22. Work Breakdown Structure: 
 Wireframes Brainstorm Internal Meeting Personal Brainstorming

 Create Wireframes Internal Team Review Internal Iteration
 Present Prep presentation Review with Client Collect Feedback (x3) Iterate (x2) Total Time: 2 days Total Time: 10 days Total Time: 15 days
  23. BOOTED! Last minute changes and requests are common in projects.

    Sometimes you’ll let them slip, but you’ll always want to think it through and discuss it with your team and clients.
  24. KEEP IT MOVIN’ Almost done! But before you finish things

    up, a new stakeholder joins the client team. How can you onboard a new client, keep the project in track, and stay on time and under budget? Good luck!
  25. NEW ALLY MADE If you carve trails for new stakeholders

    and lead them and their horse to water, you’ll make a life-long partner. If you handle it really well, they’ll come back to you for the next project showdown.