PM Road Trip - Constant Contact

Constant Contact


PM Road Trip Journal

July 6 -  Today's trip took us to Kolob Canyon in Zion National Park.  The path we chose was 5 miles round-trip, so we knew we would have to turn back before we finished it to preserve the smaller girls' legs and spirits.  When our 14 year old was ready to march ahead, I called out to him to not go too far since we would be turning back.  I watched him disappear behind a sign that warned us we were entering the Zion wilderness.

Kolob Canyon

The smaller girls turned back before the end of mile 1, so my most intrepid daughter and I took off to catch the wayward son.  He returned after reaching the trail end, bewildered why we were worried.  "I said I was going to the end," he asserted.  "I told you we were turning back," I countered.  We gasped for breath and ran out of water on the return trip, which always seems twice as long, but arrived unharmed.  My wife was happy the mountain lions had not eaten our son for lunch.

I know all of us have had times on our projects when we felt absolutely sure we had communicated deliverables and schedules, only to find our customers were completely oblivious.  My miscommunication with my son reminds me of those situations and how important it is we maintain continual contact with our stakeholders.  Some of the most effective project communication plans have been decentralized so that more than just the PM feels responsible for spreading the word.  I've had the good fortune to have a couple of projects that actually had a communications specialist or coordinator on the project.  Even in the absence of formalized communication processes, you can still use an informal method for communication through informal communication agents who know they have to make sure their specific stakeholder group is in the know.

We decided on a similar solution for the family on the rest of our trip; in essence a buddy system.  Everyone must be with a buddy and talk through a plan for length of time and plan for contact points.  Granted, I have more of an authority position as a father than I do as a PM, but I think I can be a better project communicator by allowing others to participate more in the creation and dissemination of information.

PM Road Trip - Station Break

Station Break


PM Road Trip Journal

July 7 -  After a few days of mountains, mesas, and canyons, the children are getting a little geologically weary.  They are still enjoying the sites, but the heat and walking miles are becoming tough.  So, we switched to a shuttle bus for Bryce Canyon.  It allowed us to still see the site and not exert ourselves as much.  It turned out to be an incredible day where we just got out at the many overlooks and enjoyed the ride in between.   The ice cream and souvenir shop at the end was a good incentive, too. Here's just one of the unbelievable views:


In projects, we also need to take breaks from the pace.  I've always been a believer in bursts before milestones or iteration releases.  Equally important, though is the break in the intensity, either to catch up on training, administrative stuff, or time off.  I know there are a few folks out there that want to drive constantly, but I'll posit that there are 3 or 4 times as many who get rejuvenation from pace or subject matter changes.  More often than not, both in waterfall and agile projects, we fail to build in time between phases or iterations for that respite.  I'm challenging myself to build my next schedule or iteration plan with that in mind.  I'd like to hear how you have done it successfully if you want to drop me a note.

After our shuttle-bound trip at Bryce Canyon, we're taking a bigger break from our sight-seeing to do something more interactive and use some different "muscles".  I think the kids will be recharged for Sedona and the Grand Canyon, because I need my team to enjoy the remainder of the trip as much as what we've accomplished so far.   We need our project teams to cross the finish line with pride of accomplishment AND positive energy.