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The Project Communications Game

C4de88ea47538e4594750e3861a341c8?s=47 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. The Project Communications 
 GAME Brett Harned @brettharned 2014 Digital

    PM Summit
  2. HOWDY!

  3. COMMUNICATE Project Managers for a Living

  4. Credit: @brennaheaps, @omniplan

  5. Credit: @jennasteckel

  6. Credit: @allisin

  7. Credit: @arethachoi

  8. PLANS CHANGE …and each day brings a new challenge

  9. The Project Communications 

  10. 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!
  11. CLIENTS Understanding

  12. 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
  13. Who Are the Stakeholders? • Project Owner/Core Team • Primary

    Stakeholders • Secondary Stakeholders • Management • Executive
  14. Grab This Resource theprojectgame.com

  15. PROJECT RESEARCH Isn’t Just About Design

  16. Stakeholder Interviews • Attend them and take notes • Suggest

    questions to be included • Dig deeper on: • Project goals • Team dynamics • Potential issues and risks
  17. Grab This Resource theprojectgame.com

  18. WELL DONE! You did your research, so you now know

    your project stakeholders. Now try keeping them wrangled…
  19. The Project Communications 

  20. SCORE! You took great meeting notes and the team thanked

    you for them.
  21. 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
  22. The Project Communications 

  23. FIX THIS ONE! Aw shucks! Your team abandoned Basecamp for

    Google Drive. It feels like you’re missing project details. Sort that out, partner.
  24. STANDARDS Set Team Communication

  25. – Joseph Priestley “The more elaborate our means of communication,

    the less we communicate." 18th century chemist and clergyman
  26. 1. Everyone Must Be Aware of Project Goals and Deadlines

  27. 2. The Team Must Be Clear On Project Responsibilities

  28. 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
  29. 3. Establish Team Preferences on Meeting Time vs. Solitary Time

  30. – 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.”
  31. 4. Promise Transparent and Honest Communications (No side conversations) (No

    backchannel conversations)
  32. – 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.”
  33. 5. Consensus on Tools

  34. 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.
  35. The Project Communications 

  36. BONUS! Your team is a tight-knit pack, just like The

    Young Guns.
  37. "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
  38. The Project Communications 

  39. 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.

  41. 1. Prepare Everyone for a Good Presentation

  42. 2. Observe and Take Good Notes

  43. 3. Set Ground Rules on How You Accept Feedback

  44. 4. Be Clear About Your 
 Feedback/Revision Plan

  45. 5. Facilitate Healthy Conversation

  46. MOVIN’ ON Project decision making can get tough, If you

    set boundaries and communicate clearly, you’ll meet deadline and budgets,
  47. The Project Communications 

  48. 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.
  49. MEETINGS: Good Guy or Organizational Outlaw?

  50. 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
  51. MEETING Design a Successful

  52. 1. Find the Right Meeting Place

  53. 2. Create and Follow an Agenda

  54. 3. Determine Meeting Roles

  55. Leader Recorder Facilitator Timekeeper


  57. 4. Be All-Inclusive

  58. 5. Encourage Meeting Productivity

  59. 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.
  60. The Project Communications 

  61. GOOD MOVE! Your team and clients give you bonus points

    for being honest and holding off on answering a question suited for a developer.
  62. TRUE GRIT It Takes to Be a Good PM

  63. – John Wayne “Courage is being scared to death…and saddling

    up anyway”
  64. The Project Communications 

  65. 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.
  66. Wrangle Documents! • Scope • Strategy Brief • Requirements •

    Project Plan • Status Reports
  67. Articulate Effort • Dissect the issue or feature • Discuss

    goals • Determine impacts • Budget • Timeline • Show your estimates, be transparent
  68. Work Breakdown Structure Source: http://edge.rit.edu/content/P10205/public/basestation_prelim_WBS.png

  69. 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
  70. 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.
  71. The Project Communications 

  72. 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!

  74. Let’s Get Acquainted

  75. Grab This Resource theprojectgame.com


  77. 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.
  78. The Project Communications 

  79. WINNER! …but you knew it was an ace in the

  80. THANKS! Brett Harned @brettharned 
 theprojectgame.com brettharned.com