CMU School of Drama

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How to manage projects like an actual project manager

Atlassian Blog: So. You have to manage a project, and you’re not a project manager by trade.

I’ve been there. It’s pretty daunting, with all these different frameworks and methodologies to consider… But if you’re like me, you don’t really care about methodology. You just want to deliver your project successfully, and not lose your mind in the process.


Angel Zhou said...

I really like how this article is purposefully vague in order to try to address as large of a community of project managers or potential project managers as possible. To be more specific, the author never specifies the type of project or project manager the tips are for. I do wonder if there are any subsets that these tips cannot apply to, though. For example, the article mentions shareholders a lot – does this indicate large companies? I know of a few smaller startups that have 1-2 project managers. I also do not quite appreciate the fact that the company is consistently mentioning itself throughout the article; for the startup that I work for, I was specifically told to not plug the company in articles since it is better to take a more hands-off approach with readers.

Conversely to my previous point about generality, I feel that the purposeful vagueness also hurts the article. It forces each tip to be very, very general (ex. “make decisions efficiently”) and sometimes that can come off as something that should be obvious – it would be much more valuable to talk about how a project manager can ensure they can continue to hold true to the tips in a long-term situation. However, they do explain in some detail the meaning of their tips, which adds value to the generality of it all.

Marisa Rinchiuso said...

I was very excited to read this article as we are approaching the heat of Arcade. One of the points mentioned really resonated with me: you can't get help when people don't know help is needed. I definitely felt that that was an issue that often happens during Arcade. Everyone is trying to manage their own tasks, but when others need help it is hard to speak up and ask, and it is the job of the manager to help facilitate the distribution of duties. I also loved the idea of a project poster. I think the idea of creating one document that tracks goals, team needs, roles, responsibilities, and desired outcome could be a helpful document not only for utilitarian purposes but also for moral. It is difficult trying to manage a project that is new and unprecedented but has strict expectations. I think these skills and methods proposed can help navigate that challenge with more grace.

Helena Hewitt said...

A lot of articles about how to manage projects, your time, etc. just list really obvious ideas like “Track your progress!” without ever elaborating on them. This article, however, provided some really great ideas about how to successfully manage a project. One of its core messages was about making sure everyone is one board with the project and thinking about it from the very beginning, even if their role in the project doesn’t start until later. This is something I think the School of Drama struggles with as a whole, although interdepartmentally I think they are fairly good about having a clean start to a project. A group of students, including myself, was recently comparing the varying methods and timelines that different departments have for putting students on shows and then alerting them about the shows they are working on. One student mentioned finding out two hours before the ICM that they were designing a certain show, another said they had gone to a faculty’s office to find out what show they were on and the faculty member had pulled a slip of paper out of the trash, uncrumpled it, and read off their show assignment. The dramaturgy department actually seems to have the best method for both assigning shows and alerting the students well ahead of time, including surveying the students to find out what kind of work they would (ideally) like to be involved with: female/minority director, period piece, etc. While they obviously don’t always get those requests fulfilled it is nice to think that their voices are being heard at least a little bit. I personally have been a little bit frustrated by both how late the job lead scheme is generally announced, as I would like to be able to plan my classes with that at least in mind, and with the general assumption that just because we are technicians we don’t care about the content of the show we are working on beyond what the build requires.

Chris Calder said...

Being in the role of a project manager is sometimes something that you never get training for. I know a lot of people in the work place that are throw into the role and have to adapt to the position by doing. Sometimes leading the team can be very difficult and might not always end up as you planned. I think that this article does a really good job of laying out the framework on how to be a good project manager but there is a lot that needs to be learned once you are in the position. This is why I think CMU drama has its student learn to manage projects or in this case shows by actually doing it and learning as you go through the process. I think being a manager is something that you can always be better at and will continue to learn from project to project.

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