Implementing creative ideas can be a big challenge for teams. In this episode Project Manager Professional Brian Davidson explains how to use project management tools with teams to make any project a success. He provides simple, clear processes useful for non-project managers to lead their teams through to execution. He examines typical challenges team face with collaborative, creative projects and what to do about them.
What You’ll Learn
- The step-by-step process of how to create a project management map, a work
- A simple way to get your team to collectively create a project plan and timeline
- Common pitfalls teams make when trying to implement innovative projects and what to do about it
About Brian Davidson
Brian Davidson is a Project Management Professional and Certified Scrum Master with 13 years experience leading 32 projects in United States, Middle East, China, and Asia-Pacific region. He is passionate about leading teams to achieve project success. Brian is particularly interested in combining both innovation skills with execution skills to help people and teams achieve their innovation goals. He is also a project management coach and readily shares his experience and expertise with those interested in learning about project management. Visit www.mypmdevelopment.com for project templates, development reports and resources, and to inquire about coaching and training.
- Brian’s website: www.theprojectleaderbook.com with sample project templates and tools
- www.smartsheet.com for an online, collaborative project plan template.
- One Page Project Manager (www.oppmi.com) for a 12-step, one-page, project plan template and related books.
- HBR Article: Innovator’s DNA by Dyer, Gregerson, and Christensen
The Weekly Challenge
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Transcript for Episode #071: Implementing Creative Projects with Brian Davidson
Amy Climer: Welcome to The Deliberate Creative Podcast Episode 71. In today’s episode, we are exploring how to implement a creative project using project management tools. But before we get into this really useful episode, I want to share with you a new review that came in on iTunes. This review is from Hero Hedu. Hopefully, I am saying that right. It is titled Deliberate Creative is the Best. Five stars. And they say:
Amy makes tapping into the creativity that we all have fun and does it in a thought-provoking way where you get practical real world applications to use for personal and group betterment.
Thank you so much for the review. I really appreciate it. If you have not left a review yet on The Deliberate Creative Podcast, I would love to get your feedback. You can go to iTunes or Google Play and leave a review there. It is really simple. If you want a direct link to iTunes, go to www.climerconsulting.com/itunes or www.climerconsulting.com/googleplay and that will take you right to the episode, you can leave a review there. I read them all on the show and I really appreciate them.
Today’s episode has been inspired by some teams that I have worked with in the past, as well as, some listeners. One of the challenges that teams have when they are trying to implement a creative project is that implementation stage. If you have listened to this podcast before, you know that we talk a lot about the Creative Problem Solving Process and there are four stages to that which are Clarify, Ideate, Develop and Implement. Implementation is a stage that people get stuck on a lot. In some ways, coming up with the idea is the easy part. It is actually making it happen, implementing it, that is more difficult. Especially, in a team where you have multiple people who all have different ideas of how it might look and how the implementation might work. I have invited a project manager to come explain to us how do we actually get these creative ideas to fruition.
Today’s guest is Brian Davidson who is a project manager. He has been working for 13 years in the field. He has worked with 33 different teams in a variety of industries and he has helped these teams make their projects happen and helped them be more innovative by actually getting stuff done. Brian is going to walk us through how you make an innovative project come to life. He is going to share a lot of insights and tools. He does share a number of links and you can find all those links on the shownotes at www.climerconsulting.com/071. You can find Brian’s website as well as a bunch of the other links that he mentions. Here is Brian.
Brian, welcome to The Deliberate Creative Podcast. Thanks for being on the show.
Brian Davidson: Hi. Thanks. Good to be here.
Amy Climer: Can you start off and tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Brian Davidson: My name is Brian Davidson. I am a project management professional and a certified scrum master with 13 years experience of working with projects. I lead teams to achieve their project goals, specifically, working through the implementation phase of the innovation projects that they are trying to lead.
Amy Climer: Basically, a team has some idea that they want to implement and then you come in and you help make that happen.
Brian Davidson: Exactly.
Amy Climer: Awesome! On this podcast, as you know, we talk a lot about creativity and one of the things that has come up both for some of my clients, as well as, with some of the people listening on the show is great, I have this idea, how do I make it happen? That implementation phase, as I am sure you are well aware, is where people get stuck a lot. I am hoping you can walk us through this project management process and help us understand how to manage an innovative project.
Brian Davidson: That is a good question. I gave a talk on this very recently to a group that was a center for innovation. They come together to network with each other, really working in the innovation space and they had that very same question. What we looked at is we began with the innovation skill set. If you look at a Harvard Business Review article titled the Innovator’s DNA, they talked about five discovery skills. If you walk through them, they talk about associating different ideas, questioning the status quo, observing customers interacting with your product, experimenting with new ideas by engaging your customers and then networking with other individuals. What we looked at is that is a really good skill set for those that want to be more innovative, more creative, but we talked about how we combine that with an execution skill set. And that really leads us into the realm of project management.
Amy Climer: There are these five components for Innovator’s DNA, then what is next? We want to get started implementing these skills and making this project come to life. How does that work?
Brian Davidson: We looked at Michael Glauser. He provides a suggestion to say we not only have to create new products and services, but we need to execute on our business concept. He identified a skill set for execution which really is the ability to set goals, prioritize your goals, define activities that you need to complete in order to achieve those goals, and then develop a timeline for when you need to complete them. If you look at that execution skill set, that leads us directly into project management, specifically, with the PMBOK Guide. The PMBOK Guide stands for the Project Management Body of Knowledge.
Amy Climer: That is like PMBOK.
Brian Davidson: PMBOK, exactly. That is a collection of best practices from thousands of project managers that have shared their ideas. In this model, they identified five process groups or phases that every project goes through. At a very high level, every project begins by initiating that project, then you plan the project, and then you execute that project according to the plan. The fourth stage is monitoring and controlling the project, making sure that it stays on course with the plan, and then you close the project once you have achieve the goal.
Amy Climer: Nice. It seems so simple.
Brian Davidson: Right.
Amy Climer: That is kind of the big picture overview. How do you do those five stages? Can you talk us through a little bit of that?
The Step-by-Step Process of How to Create a Project Management Map [07:55]
Brian Davidson: I think, as we look at project management as a guide, the PMBOK Guide really talks about not only five process groups, but ten knowledge areas that we need to be mindful of when we are managing any project. Ten knowledge areas is quite a bit. One of them is scope management. How do you establish scope for your project and then manage against that? How do you create the schedule and then manage against that? Communication management, which is how do you keep people informed of your project progress, and cost management – how do you manage the budget? There are several others, a total of ten. When you combine the ten knowledge areas with five process groups, that leads you into 47 discrete processes that they define in this guide.
If you are a professional like me, you love projects, you love leading projects and you are constantly studying and learning and trying to master each of these processes so that you could be more adaptive to the needs of the project and the project teams. And for those that begin to study those processes, they will actually find that there are 365 input tools and output tools within this model, one for every day of the year. And that can really be daunting for those that are not project managers by profession. Where do you begin?
Amy Climer: Yeah, that is a good question. I feel like even though you only said a couple of minutes, it is like, “Okay, this is getting to be a lot.” How do you start? Break that down for us.
Project Charter [09:21]
Brian Davidson: One of the first ones, they call it the Project Charter. The first process to really start with is a Project Charter. It is a pretty formal title, but if you break it down into its simplest steps, there is the defining your objectives or ultimately, what is your goal? What are you trying to achieve with your particular innovation project? Once you have that, you can then break it down to say what is your scope? Or in other words, a bullet point list of six to eight things that you might identify that you need to pursue in this project to really achieve that goal. The third one is identifying any milestone dates or dates that you need to be mindful of as you are leading the project, such as when you are going to start the project. When are you going to hand in the project? When is a key deliverable need to be complete somewhere in the middle?
Amy Climer: As I am listening to this, I am thinking about project teams that I have been a part of. One of the things that I have noticed happens and I am curious to your thoughts on this is that even just the fact that there are two steps of initiating and planning before you get to any execution, I think, my guess is that is something that many teams skip or gloss over. And one of the things that I have seen is that as people are starting to plan for a project, something will come up like, oh okay, we need to write this email to explain it and people are like okay and some people just want to start that right away, immediately. How do you manage that? What is your response to that if you are working on a team and that came up?
Brian Davidson: That is a great question. In fact, when I talk to a lot of project managers, even and I ask them, “Hey, do you have a charter for your project or how would you define this?” They actually do not. They jumped right into the project, really developed the task that they needed to pursue. That can be very difficult for teams because as they start to get into the weeds of the project, the day-to-day task that they have to complete, they start to lose track because they do not really have that map that leads to the finish line. That is really why I begin with the recommendation of a charter. Even though it has that formal title, it really is just a simple outline of what ultimately is your goal. If you think about the objective itself, you are really only looking for two to three sentences.
Amy Climer: Can you give an example?
Brian Davidson: Yeah, that is a good question because in the innovation space, it is actually a little bit more difficult as you start to get into it. Because a lot of times in the innovation projects, you really do not know what the finished product is.
Amy Climer: Right. That is the whole point of it, right?
Brian Davidson: Exactly. That is what you are trying to figure out as you go through the five discovery skills or design thinking. With the charter, though, you can still state your goal such as, if I were to just draft up an example I would say, “This project will take a product enhancement idea from ideation to prototype by directly engaging customers through observation and experimentation phase so that we identify the top three feature enhancements that we want to make to our product.” That might be how I begin and then I work with that and I tweak it really just to make that a little bit more crisp and that can serve as your project goal.
Amy Climer: Listening to you, that sound fairly specific. You have outlined some criteria right there in that objective. Is that pretty common?
Brian Davidson: For people to do that? Some people struggle. In fact, people have asked how do you whittle it down to just two to three sentences? That can be the difficult part. Some people can write it out and it would be a couple of paragraphs long. I had a conversation with somebody recently to say as you are going through that, go forward with the creative process of getting it down on paper and just write out your thoughts. And as you go through, you can kind of start to pick out the key words that you really want to get the customer’s perspective, that you really want to have a prototype. As you look at those pieces, you can just string them together. How would you summarize your two to three paragraphs in kind of a title or opening sentence? And that really is your objective.
Amy Climer: I can see that those two paragraphs could be really valuable. Like there may be a need to have that depth, but at the same time if somebody says, “Hey, what’s the purpose of this project?” You should be able to answer that in a sentence or two.
Brian Davidson: Yeah, exactly.
Amy Climer: That sentence or those couple of sentences that, basically, would be called the objective or the goal for the project.
Brian Davidson: That is right.
Amy Climer: That is like the beginning of the charter.
Brian Davidson: Yeah, the very first section. If you go on www.mypmdevelopment.com, there is a section where there is an example of exactly that type of charter with a charter statement and sample scope and milestones and what that could look like for an innovation project.
Amy Climer: Okay, cool. I will put the link for that in the shownotes so people can find it.
Brian Davidson: Okay, great.
Amy Climer: We have this objective, we are starting the project charter. It seems to me like the project charter is basically a map. Is that a word you would use?
Brian Davidson: That is a great way to phrase it. It is really a map to the finish line. You are at the very beginning initiation phase of the project and you are just now trying to get down on paper what ultimately are you trying to do so that others will also know and begin to have a shared vision of what your project is.
Project Scope [15:03]
Amy Climer: Then you start defining the project scope because I am imagining scope creep is coming where the project can just grow and grow and grow.
Brian Davidson: You bet. Amy, I literally carry the project charter with me throughout projects. I have it in the folder almost every time because all throughout people are trying to introduce new ideas or really ideating. Which is really a great exercise to go through at various points of the project, but you need to be able to bring those ideas toward your goal and vision for the project and that scope section in the charter is a really good guide. If you think about the scope section, there are maybe four, six, eight bullet points, depending on the size and complexity of your project.
You can actually start by your goal statement that we just did. We talked about engaging customers. So there is customer observation session or whatever it is you are going to do to engage your customers. We talked about experimenting; maybe there is an experimentation session. That is a thing. You want to get that down. Certainly, there is a prototype. There is the project charter. If it is something that we are talking about creating, you want to make sure that that is a deliverable on the project. You can start to really build out these as the things that we think are components of our project that will lead us to kind of completing the goal.
Listing Milestone Dates [16:26]
Amy Climer: After the project scope then you start listing some milestone dates. Is that the next step?
Brian Davidson: That is right. You have a goal, you kind of have a sense of the things that you need to complete in order to achieve that goal and then you really want to pay attention to those dates. Example of a project recently, there was a team that actually had a facility that they used to bring customers into the building and they can sit them in front of their website and interact with the website and they could then observe and record that activity. Usability Testing Session, some people call that. As they are going through that, you might, for instance, have already checked with that usability testing center and they are really busy this time of the year, many innovation projects going on in your company and the fifth or seventh of next month are the only dates that are available. So let’s just say they already booked it even before doing this charter because we did not want to lose those dates. But we would want to make sure that we list those out on the milestone list so we are assured that the whole team is aware of the fifth through seventh of the next month and that we can make sure to get all the activities that are needed so we really take advantage of that particular session.
Amy Climer: That makes a lot of sense. When I think about this charter, what are some ways that a team might put something like this together? Does it need to be like a formal charter or what might that look like or what are some other ways to look at this?
Brian Davidson: It can be an email sometimes, if you want to keep it more informal, but really it is about getting one to two pages, that is all we are talking about here. Word document, whatever format you are comfortable with, really it is just having those two to three sentences, six to eight bullets and the two to three dates that you got to be mindful of. That is your charter.
Amy Climer: Cool. That sounds pretty easy.
Brian Davidson: Yeah.
Amy Climer: Let’s say that we have a team and we are working together to develop this product, this ideation to get it into prototype stage and we have our project charter, kind of this basic piece together. What is next? If we are in a team meeting, what are we actually going to do next?
Planning Session [18:40]
Brian Davidson: Good question. The other project management tool that I want to talk about is the Work Breakdown, kind of a technical term. Ultimately, what that means is you take your project and you want to bring your team together and then break down the project team to bite size deliverables and activities. Ultimately, what are the things your team needs to do to achieve that goal? It is extension of the charter. We talk about the charter having the goal statement, the scope section and that scope section transfers right over to this working session, the planning session with your team. We already identified that we need to create A prototype, observation session and milestone list and things like that, so you want to get those out in kind of a visual space.
There is something that I call just having a planning session, bring the team together, carve out two hours of time, make sure it is a room with a white blank wall or a white board and all you need is just a stack of post-it notes. I usually use different colors and sizes such as six-by-six large format post-it notes in pink. You might have four-by-four inch post-it notes in blue and then just your everyday yellow post-it notes in the regular size and each one of those are different components of your project. If you think about the project at the phase level, that is really your first step. Your project goes through phases. We talked earlier about the PMBOK Guide saying that there was initiation, planning, execution, etc., and so those can actually be your first few phases of the project.
Take a pink post-it, write initiation, post it on the wall. Take another pink post-it, put planning to represent that phase and put it on the wall about two feet to the right. And then for execution, that is where you might want to tailor it to unique elements of your project, such as, for us we talked about innovation, we talked about looking at the project discovery skills, we may talk about observation and experimentation. We kind of have that in our goal statement. We want to break down our execution phase into observation and experimenting and then maybe prototype development. If you are now looking at the wall, you can see either five or six phases of your project and that is really the starting point for your team.
Amy Climer: And then basically you are just filling those in with the other post-it notes?
Brian Davidson: That is right. Put the pink ones aside, now grab the blue ones with your team and now say what are the deliverables, those big things, those tangible objects that we need to produce in order to complete each one of those phases? The easy ones are initiation. The project charter is part of the initiation. There you go. That is your deliverable. You then may need to identify a project team, so you might want to put project team. Those are the two ingredients you need to complete that phase.
Then you are in the planning phase. The design workshop that you are having with your team, there you go. That is a deliverable. You might want to get a detailed project plan or schedule that you pull together after this section. There is your other deliverable. And that can be it for your planning phase. And now you are looking at the execution, which has the observation and experimentation and you can just go randomly. You do not have to go in order. One person might suggest that there is an experimentation session, another one might say usability testing session, another one wants to look at Google Analytics maybe, if it is a website, and so that is a particular deliverable. Those are the things that you want your team to map out on the wall.
Amy Climer: That is a great thing about the post-it notes is you can just stick them up there and then you can re-order them later and re-sort them.
Brian Davidson: Exactly. A lot of times it is helpful to begin the process. Again, use the charter. Everybody should have the charter in front of them and begin by putting those blue post-its on the wall and we get the process started. Then start to kind of hand those out to the people and get them contributing additional ideas that they think of as you are putting those first ones up. A lot of times people can be stuck with this type of exercise if they are not used to participating in that way. That is a way to kind of draw them in.
Amy Climer: I am listening to this, I am thinking okay, this is really simple. Yet, I think, from my experience, a lot of teams do not do this or have not thought of this. I do not know if it is because they have not been exposed to it or whatever the reason is. But I am wondering when you are actually leading a project and you are going through this planning phase with the post-it notes, does it feel as simple as I am — I have done this before, but I am curious like what is your experience? What are the challenges or is it actually this simple? Do you know what I mean?
Brian Davidson: Yeah, that is a good point. Every team is different. The reason we are going through this exercise is to achieve that shared vision. We talked about that a little bit earlier. With the charter, you kind of laid out the map to the finish line, but really your team is just reading a document at that point and I find that many people have kind of an inherent disbelief. They do not necessarily know that they have it, it is not really explicit, but somewhere in them they may not know how they are going to be successful through this project. You might be using a different technology that they are not used to and so they are not sure if they are going to be successful at fulfilling their part of the project. Because you are in the creative space, we talked about the end of the project is not really known. It is a discovery process where some people really like certainty. They like to know exactly what is going to happen when and really high level of detail and so they might struggle with that. So they do not know how they are going to arrive at the end of the project. Again, that inherent disbelief.
And so by going through this exercise, like people writing it out on post-it notes, visually on the wall and then getting to the activity level of what are the exact steps you need to take in order to achieve each one of those deliverables, very quickly within a two-hour session, your team went from not knowing how to get to the finish line to really seeing it right up there on the wall. And the powerful realization is, is there any one thing on the wall that we cannot do? Mostly, they will call out one or two items maybe, such as that new technology or something that they have never done before that they are uncertain about how to go about that and that just is a clue to you to provide more support to them or guidance through that phase of the project. But for the most part, you are going to see that they did not call out 23 other complaints that are on the wall and so they really had the sense of how to get to the finish line of this project.
Amy Climer: Do you find that that helps dispel that inherent disbelief and they start to believe in themselves?
Brian Davidson: You bet. If you think about products that they have worked on in the past they may have been unsuccessful, but they also have not gone through this exercise. They have been brought into a project, given a set of tasks to do, maybe seen some spreadsheet format of all the tasks that they are assigned to, but people do not resonate with that. They do not engage at that test level. They engage more at this group session, more at the deliverable level. People can commit to providing the report to you by Tuesday. They cannot necessarily commit to you by drafting up by 1:00 today and then doing something by 3:00 tomorrow. People do not work at that test level. They have a lot going on in their lives.
As they are working through this group session, they are coming together and all contributing to the design, to laying out the map to the finish line of the project. And by doing that, it is the first time that they have had the most clear sense of what the project really entails. And so they really will not be surprised as you are going through the first week, through the second week, the fifth week and the sixth week of your project, they are going to know what is coming up next. It is going to really reduce a lot of the uncertainty that comes along with projects.
Amy Climer: I would think that the process of doing this as a team is very important and that it cannot just be the team leader coming in and saying, “Hey, I mapped out the project for us.”
Brian Davidson: That is true. It is not uncommon. I have to say that I do this exercise at home before I ever get to that session. That is actually one of my suggestions for anybody listening to this podcast is to try this out at home. Take the fear out of the process if you are not sure how this type of exercise looks and feels. Because you will see as you are going through with yourself and mapping it out of the wall just how easy the project comes together. But when you are working a team, it is important to not give all the answers like you just said. Instead, leave them. Just plant the seed, throw some out there that you know they may not come up with themselves and that will spark new ideas for them that they can then contribute.
Amy Climer: Great, because for one reason, it is impossible that as a team leader or as a project manager that you are going to have all the answers. You have to have the team’s input because there are pieces you do not know even if you think you know it all.
Brian Davidson: You bet. Absolutely. That is why you are bringing the project team together. Usually, they are people with certain expertise such as website design or some expertise with the product that your company or a service that your company provides. And so yeah, you really need them to be drawing on their own talent and experience to contribute to this project. Absolutely.
Challenges That Teams Encounter When Starting to Implement Projects [27:55]
Amy Climer: What would you say are some challenges that you have seen, Brian? Like after the team has put together this plan, they have it all laid out of who is going to do what, by when, and then they actually start implementing. What are some challenges that you have seen with teams at that stage?
Brian Davidson: That is a good question. I would say if I think back through 13 years of project management, 33 projects, pretty consistently any team that you bring together, the first thing is they are experts in their particular field or the role that they play in the organization, but by definition you are bringing them into a project that is very different than anything they have done before. It is in the innovation or kind of creative space so it is really outside of their comfort zone.
So concepts like situational leadership which really means that any of us, no matter how experienced we are in our particular profession or role, when we are thrown into a new situation, we can feel just like a new employee first day on the job. We need some guidance even down to the keystroke level of how do I get started with working on this project. And so that is very common with project teams. You as a project leader your role really is after you have mapped out what needs to be done for the project and by when, you need to check in with every individual very regularly, just gauge how are they doing? Is there anything standing in their way for being successful at whatever task or kinds of projects that they have taken ownership of?
Amy Climer: You feel like those individual check-ins, is that what you are saying?
Brian Davidson: Absolutely. Just checking in with individual, how are you feeling about this particular task? What you might find is they say, “Yeah, I’m feeling good.” “Well, tell me about how you are going to go about that.” And you get a sense of do they really know what the next step it. And if they do not, have a discussion with them. Suggest some ideas about how they might get started.
Amy Climer: I like that follow-up question because if you just say, “Hey, how is going?” They are like, “Oh yeah, it’s great.” And they might really feel it is, it is not that they are necessarily trying to cover anything up, but then when you start digging in, it kind of comes up that they have not thought through all the steps yet.
Brian Davidson: That is right. A lot of times when people are thinking, “Yeah, I am going to get to that at the end of the day. Get all my other work done.” And now they are working on it at the end of the day, everybody has left, they run into a roadblock and nobody is around to ask a question so we lose a day. They have to come in the next day. Then we don’t start delivering on time. And so by checking in proactively you can really help them take those next steps. You can even advocate for something to be done earlier than they might originally plan to do it.
What we talked about before with the scope definition is a lot of times people have their own ideas. They are going to be excited about the project, about what they are working on and there is a tendency to go beyond what is really necessary to achieve your particular project goal. An example might be if it is, again, a website project or something, if they have a particular skill or they just read about a new technology so they start to fidget around with the new technology to really map out and create a mark-up of what this exactly could look like. But that takes kind of hours away from the real tasks that you identified are needed to achieve the goal by the aggressive timeline that you set.
By checking in with them, you can really honor the fact they are excited and energetic about the project. But really suggest that let’s focus on a related task in that particular space about the wider frame that needs to be provided at the observation center or whatever other deliverable and get them re-oriented on that task and move away from the thing that really does not lead to, again, our goal for the project.
Amy Climer: Awesome! That makes a lot of sense. I am wondering, Brian, if there are — you mentioned some tools to use like post-it notes, which I am a huge fan of and talk about quite frequently on this podcast. Are there any other tools that you would recommend as people are getting stated with using project management?
Project Management Tools [31:59]
Brian Davidson: That post-it note session is really for the team to establish that shared vision. Once you do that, it is helpful to download that into a spreadsheet and it could be as simple as Excel, a lot of people use that. If you want something that is online and collaborative, www.smartsheet.com is one of my favorites. It is free trial usually so it is easy to just try out. It is an online collaborative spreadsheet that allows all of your team, no matter where they are located, to be able to look at the same project plan.
You can imagine what that looks like by thinking about the phases. You might start out with the phase title then think about the first deliverable and then indent a little bit and then now you have the two to three activities that achieve that deliverable. To the right of that, you have the person who owns it, the date that it is due and that just flows all the way throughout the project. Everybody can check in day-to-day or week-to-week, whatever your cadence is, and really get, again, on the same page about what is coming up next, where do we need to focus and really continue to drive that forward.
Amy Climer: That sounds really useful.
Brian Davidson: One other idea I think of is more recently learning and studying Agile Project Management. They had a lot of great ideas about creating a people-centered team culture. One of the ones I think is the most powerful is the daily standup.
Amy Climer: Yes, I have heard of this. Explain what that means.
Brian Davidson: They encourage collaboration over process. Instead of focusing on delegating tasks to individuals and they are working alone in each of their respective offices or wherever they are located, I really want to encourage people to collaborate with each other, to share ideas, to ask for help. A good way to instill that in a team culture is to have a daily standup. Every morning or whatever time that you set, it is a 15-minute meeting and it is 15 minutes so that nobody really will miss it. Who cannot make a 15 minute meeting in their day? Everybody will come and report what did they work on since yesterday, what are they going to focus on today and is there anything standing in their way.
Amy Climer: I love that. Just simple three things.
Brian Davidson: You bet. It is really powerful once you get into the cadence of people getting comfortable with sharing in that way. People are informed about what other people are working on so if they have a particular interest in that they can say, “Hey, can I work with you on that?” or, “I have an idea to help you out.” And if there is a blocker, that is really key. Somebody might say, “I want to do this, but I have been trying to get a hold of so and so in the other department, really not hearing back. It’s been two days. I’m kind of worried I’m not going to get it done.” You as a project leader, that is your role. Really your sole role in a project is to listen for those things that stand in the way of people’s success and then you go tackle that. Go find that person. Can you talk to the manager? Are they available? Are they on vacation? Is there somebody else they could talk to? All to move that particular task forward to make sure that that person has what they need.
Amy Climer: You are basically unblocking the blocks.
Brian Davidson: You bet.
Amy Climer: Cool. I like that. One of the things I like to do on this podcast, Brian, is to give listeners a weekly challenge based on everything that you have just shared and what they have just learned. What is a weekly challenge that you would recommend for listeners this week if they want to apply something that you talked about regarding project management?
The Weekly Challenge [35:29]
Brian Davidson: We have been talking about innovation skills and how they combine with execution skills and project management tools that might help us. I think, I would recommend going through that project charter exercise. Think about a project that has been keeping you up at night or an innovation idea that you have been wanting to pursue for a long time. And go through the project charter exercise so that you are identifying the project goal in like two to three sentences, you list out the five to seven items that you think would be in scope for your project and identify those dates that you would define in your project if you were to start that, let’s say next week.
I also would recommend socializing that charter. We talked a little bit about that. Socializing with a colleague or your manager or somebody in your network and get some ideas from them about things that you might consider including in your project.
Amy Climer: That is awesome. That sounds great. It sounds doable for something you can do in the next week.
Brian Davidson: I think you will find that it gives you a really clear view of what your project is or could become and ultimately it is the first step in creating that shared vision that we talked about. I think you will really find that a helpful step to getting started.
Amy Climer: Cool. Brian, if people want to learn more about the work that you do or get in touch with you, where can they go?
Brian Davidson: I think if you went to my website www.mypmdevelopment.com or simply email me at email@example.com that is the best way to reach me. I would like to mention that I love talking about project management like we did today and I would be happy to share project management tips or provide coaching for those that are interested.
Amy Climer: Awesome! That is great. Brian, thank you so much for being on the podcast. I feel like this is really helpful and gives clear, actionable things that we can start doing to implement creative projects. Thank you so much.
Brian Davidson: Excellent! Thank you.
Amy Climer: Wow! Brian, thank you so much for sharing all the details you did about project management and how to create a plan that actually brings a creative project to life. I’m so thankful to have you on the show. For those of you listening, let us know how it goes when you create your project charter or your project map. Do that project charter exercise that Brian mentioned in the weekly challenge and you can share your experience in the shownotes. You could find the shownotes at www.climerconsulting.com/071. You will also find links to all the resources that Brian mentioned, the Harvard Business Review article that he mentioned, as well as, the other links and resources. You can also find Brian’s website on there.
Brian is, as of this recording, he is booked for about a year and a half as a project manager, but he does do some coaching. If you are interested in leading your own project, but maybe you just want a little guidance or some direction as you are going and you want to have somebody to talk to, Brian may be the person to call. He is excellent at what he does. Reach out to him if you are looking for that kind of coaching.
If there is anything else you want to learn on this podcast and you have not found yet in the last 71 episodes, please reach out to me and let me know. A lot of the episode ideas and the content come from listeners and so if you have a question or something you are curious about regarding innovation in teams, let me know. You can find me at www.climerconsulting.com. Just shoot me an email and I love getting your input and your feedback.
You can find up-to-date information about the podcast and things that are happening on my blog as well as via social media, LinkedIn and Twitter. You can follow me there. On Twitter, I am @amyclimer. Same thing with LinkedIn. Facebook is Climer Consulting. Follow me on social media. I post all the new episodes there. You can also subscribe via iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher. Thank you so much for listening to the Deliberate Creative podcast. Have a wonderful creative week. Bye.
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