PM’s Journal

Plan Is Nothing, Planning Is Everything

I’ve been working for quite a while already in project management, in both so called, “waterfall” and “agile software development” projects and again and again I see value in planning. Your Business stakeholders or your Customers always want to know: how long will the project implementation take? when will the certain features be ready? how many resources will be engaged? how much will it cost?

If you do your PM “homework” well, sit down with your team and do some high level planning and estimation – you will be able to answer these questions. And if you provide those answers to your Customers, then the right questions should start coming up: do we really want this feature, which takes so much time to implement and costs so much money? Can we use better skilled people to perform faster? Do we have enough budget to do it all? What can we do for the budget available and what are our priorities?

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To Improve Is To Change, To Be Perfect Is To Change Often…

It has been one week since I started a new job, almost one year since I changed my last job and again extended my career horizon.

It is fascinating how any kind of change impacts the way I see the world, people, companies, development and myself. It is definitely true that the more changes you undergo and the more challenges you face, the easier it becomes later to adapt. When I first started to work in the big international company, I was very lost and at the same time excited about so many people around, processes, tools, but I remember I could not even grasp where in the structure I was and what was my role about. The open space, multiple departments, numerous locations. No wonder that a person, who is put into such work environment for the first time would feel like a piece of sand in Sahara desert.

Then I changed again and then again and again. And finally I got it: thanks to different experiences and opportunities, I got to the understanding how it all works and that it is just the scale which makes things look so complicated.

Some of my lessons learned after such different experiences are:

  • Know your organizational structure. Know your “WBS element“, your “LEGO brick” and where you belong. This will help tremendously to see the structure as a whole and where you belong in it and see where you can develop if you’d like.
  • Know the person you report to and the person above him/her and a person above them. It is not enough to know your direct supervisor. In case you wonder why? Answer is as following : you can not afford that your career and development are all in hands of one person. What will you do if they appear to be not competent enough? What is they will block your development? What if they appear to behave unprofessionally? Then you would have at least couple of options at hand how to influence your supervisor:)
  • Learn about tools and processes, which are available in your company. Why? Because it will be easier to do your job from the very beginning if you know how things work in the company, rather than learning by doing only and running into mistakes, which could have been easily avoided. I’ve done it and I know the pain!
  • Learn about development opportunities. As you know – begin with the end in mind. Imagine what you want to become within the company you work for. Don’t know how about you, but it gives me fantastic energy charge when I know what I want and where I want to be. Not only within the companies I have been working for, but thinking globally. And in case company will not help you achieve your goals, you don’t change the goals, you change the company. It definitely pays off to be true to oneself:)

Now, I still feel the anxiety when changing the environment, people, processes etc. I guess this is a normal feeling when you go out of your comfort zone. The fact is, though, that the more used you get to this, the faster you accommodate and in much shorter period you feel like ” at home” again.

Therefore, welcome changes and don’t be afraid to change and to undergo changes. This is the only way to grow.

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Purpose Unites People

Ever since I started to work in projects, I saw in practice how important it is to have a goal, a purpose in whatever you do. It doesn’t matter if you are a project or program manager or a windows administrator.

Maybe a trivial statement, but purpose unites people – into communities and teams. I am amazed to see how the simple “meaning” adds flavor to any work which has to be done.

I know in practice what happens when people in project teams don’t know where they are going and why they are doing it. I remember how frustrating I was, when I was supposed to be part of the project where nobody knew why, how and when it was planned to be done. I witnessed such situations twice and this experience was enough to make a statement : when I am a leader and have a team – the first thing I should do is to clarify for myself and then for my team – the big “WHY”. And Keep reminding about it as often as possible, to ensure that our “Why” is still valid!

Without goal and purpose people and projects are destined to failure. These are absolute must-be questions and there must be answers: Why do you do this project? Why is it important that you do this task? What is the end result expected? When is it expected to be done?

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Not Afraid Of Challenges

I enjoy talking to people, they are my source of inspiration and information and energy. I do so many different observations during those conversations. In the past couple of months I spoke to some of my colleagues and friends and told them that I love what I do, in particular project management and leadership, I like to work a lot and that I keep looking for challenging situations and more and more responsibility. Majority of those who I spoke to (if not all, both women and men) – were quite surprised that I look for more work, challenges and difficult situations. They said, I should find a hobby, relax, devote more time to my private life…. and many other things. They also say it is because I am still young, have energy and have no kids yet.

But to be honest, only because I love what I do and have always wanted and asked for more challenges and more responsibility, took additional tasks and learned by doing – only because of that I was able to gather valuable experience, develop myself and move faster in my career. How else can we learn if not taking more than we are capable of? How can we measure our capacity if we haven’t challenged ourselves?

Truth is, if you love (not just like – LOVE) what you do, time flies and difficult situations (with customers, with teams, with colleagues) are only stepping stones. It actually adds some “taste” to your work and make it a bit “spicy”. Isn’t it what makes it exciting?…

When we work hard on something we believe in, it’s called passion. When we work hard on something we don’t believe in, it’s called stress.

Simon Sinek
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Working With Purpose

After I started to practice project management, I realized how important it is to have a meaningful purpose at work and in private life, which will drive your energy and enthusiasm. Sometimes these are project goals, sometimes these are management goals, operational or personal development goals. What matters is that these goals give a certain orientation and provide the “What” and “Why”. If you know your “Whats” and “Whys”, you will figure out “How” and you will be more productive because your will build around those goals the actions you will need to do.

I believe, the same approach is also good for people or team management. You know your “What” and “Why” and you figure out together how to get there…

And you? Do you know your why? Does it give you the needed energy boost when you start your day?

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