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How to Use Stories on Your Projects

How to use stories in project management

Stories create engagement on projects, as I’ve written about before. But knowing that as fact and being able to use them on your projects are two different things. Dr Jo Griffin from Northeastern University gave some concrete examples of how you can actually use stories as part of your project communications plan at the PMI Global Congress EMEA this month. Here’s what he had to say.

Use stories to connect and convince

Projects are done by teams, and for those teams to work effectively together you need to bring everyone along to meet a common goal. Jo talked about three ways that you could use stories to connect with and convince your colleagues to work with you.

1. Analogous stories

Early on in the project look back at what other projects have achieved and draw parallels. Use positive examples from the past that have delivered similar results, or results that had something in common with what you are trying to do and talk about those successes, and how your project will be like that. [click to continue…]

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Thanks to everyone who attended my webinar on project communications at PMXPO last week. A few people have been in touch to say they would like to see the slides, so here they are.

There were a lot of questions asked after the presentation (not suprising, as there were over 6000 people in attendance) and there wasn’t enough time afterwards to follow up on everything. I noted down as many questions as I could and I’ll be answering them on A Girl’s Guide to Project Management over the weeks to come.

I also hope to have the opportunity to run a webinar on this topic again, so watch out for more news on that.

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Directors, Listen Up: Let Project Managers Plan

I don’t care who you had lunch with, or what their golf handicap is: I want to be able to plan my project with the help of my team and then tell you when we can deliver. If directors need things done quickly, we can work with the team and the stakeholders to look at ways to crash the schedule, reduce the scope or phase the work, ensuring tasks are completed with early deliverables. We’d hope that we were considered to be trusted member of the management team and when we say it will take six weeks, that’s because it will.

Project managers have creative ways to deal with the pressures of tight delivery timescales and, if it’s a real emergency, magic can be worked to pull something out of the bag. Although it costs, both in terms of relationships with colleagues and stress for us and the team, so it shouldn’t be the default way of working.

That’s the conversation I had with the KeyedIn Projects blog team recently, and they turned my thoughts into a neat cartoon.

Project management cartoon

Read the whole article on the KeyedIn Projects blog.

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Playing the Project Manager [Book review]

Playing the Project Manager by Charles Smith

It’s not often that I review books that I don’t like. But let’s get it out there early: I didn’t like this one.

Playing the Project Manager* by Charles Smith wasn’t my cup of tea. It started out well enough because I thought it would be about how you manage yourself on a project and how you shape a career out of managing projects. That sounded interesting.

To an extent it is about that, but abstracted to a point where I couldn’t see how to use the information.

What I would have liked about it if I’d liked it

Charles argues that project managers perform a role in a business and through this form their professional identify and reputation. He says:

“Their credibility is built not on their knowledge of mechanised practices and administrative procedures, but on how they handle the complexities and challenges of the real project world.”

I agree that project managers are performers. When I go into a meeting I’m being an authentic version of myself but project management is the cloak I put on to get the job done. And I agree that the best project managers I work with know the tools but don’t much care about them. The important business of getting projects done happens around the edges of the project schedule, or risk log or any other of the essential documents for managing projects.

Generally I also like books with case studies and stories, and there are plenty of those, along with a discussion of what we can take from those experiences. [click to continue…]

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