Project Management Skills-Missed the Point + humor

Subject: Project Management Skills-Missed the Point + humor
From: Richard Dimock <red -at- ELSEGUNDOCA -dot- ATTGIS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 1 Sep 1995 11:00:32 PDT

Mark Crane wrote:

>I'm curious about the phrase "Project Management Skills" seen in so many
>position descriptions. Is it fairly common for TWs to juggle three or
>four projects simultaneously? And, if this is true, were you born with
>this ability or did you acquire it out of necessity? Finally, does
>anyone use project management software to control their writing projects?

Dick Dimock sez you ALL are missing the point, including Mark.

The position descriptions and job ads ask for "Project Management Skills",
all right. But Mark and the Honorable List miss what is being asked for.

"Project Management" in these contexts is the management of a multiple-
person project, in which several people - writers, editors, illustrators,
etc. are all working on one large overall project. The project typically

many manuals,

possibly multiple books per writer in series or parallel,

possibly multiple writers per book,

dependencies on many other department's shedules

and longish schedules.

The Project Manager ( AKA Project Leader, Lead Writer, Chief Writer What's
In Complete Charge, etc) is the technical leader that coordinates ALL
the people to get the job done.

The job is a mini-management position, generally a required stepping stone
on the path to becoming a Pubs manager. It is just like the Foreman job.

The position **may** carry administrative responsibility (hire/fire,
discipline, promotion, etc.), but often such power is held to the
department manager. The Project Manager usually gives performance input.

The position requires political skill in dealing with managers and Project
Managers from other departments such as Engineering, SW Development,
Marketing, Field Support, and Education, to name a few. All of these people
have their own priorities, schedules and hidden agendas.

In a mature company, the Project Manager writes a Project Plan and the
other Project Managers of other departments also write Project Plans.
And the Plans are exchanged and schedules scoffed at and resources
are approved or denied, and the Plans are revised and eventually by the
time the product is out the door, the Plans for how to accomplish all this
are finally firmed up. How I wish this were humor!

Humor ... That's a good idea! End of Serious Posting ON Project Management!


To acquire Project Management Skills:

Volunteer for bigger, multiple-manual projects.

Eagerly take on more requests from other departments for new manual

Point out to the Boss that with all these tasks, you NEED HELP.

Get Help, Yes? (Continue) No? Repeat the above.

Assign some tasks to your junior.

Write a Project Plan. This will take time, so

Get Help, Yes? (Continue) No? Repeat the above.

Get Microsoft Project to create pretty schedule charts for your Plan.
This will take more time, so

Get Help, Yes? (Continue) No? Repeat the above.

About 1/3 of the way through the schedule, it will become apparent
that IT CAN'T BE DONE IN TIME. No Problem. The other departments
have just hit the same realization, and all Project Managers revise
their Plans again, with later ship schedules. (Called "SLIP".)
Be warned, though, that you must NEVER, NEVER admit that Docs can't
make the schedule. Certain death. Wait for some other dumb Project
Manager to admit defeat. It takes the nerve of a WW I fighter ace
not to blink, not to be first to admit failure, so hang in there,
and Development will finally have to call a SLIP.

At this point, you add "Project Management Skills" to your resume.
Especially if you BLINKED, cuz you're dead meat. In either case,
begin circulating the new resume.

About 2/3 of the way through the project, the above contest is held
once again. NEVER blink.

And finally, as the last deadline approaches, and nobody is calling
for a SLIP, y'all sit down and finish the manuals in a flurry of late
nights. You MUST keep up the sense of DRAMA here, so that outside
departments will feel sorry for putting you in such a bind.

About 2 weeks after the ship date is the proper timing for the
New Job Offer to arrive. This helps divert attention from Your
Fiasco, and most likely will get you a promotion. And you deserve
it, because you didn't blink.

And basically, that's about all there is to Project Management

As always, humor artfully reflects reality.

Regards to all,

Dick Dimock Artfully Senior TW and occasional Project
Leader with eyelids sewn open at

AT&T GIS in (where else?) Good Ol'

El Segundo, CA Where my properly cautious management has
once again decided to trust me with a
PROJECT. They seem to have forgotten
The Fiasco of '94 caused by my steel nerve &
unblinking gaze. Speaking of which (the
gaze, not The Fiasco - we don't speak of
The Fiasco), we have very heavy traffic through
Faire El Segundo, bound for LAX. Escapees on
a long weekend. The fools don't know how
much fun LA is when everyone else leaves!
90mph through the downtown canyons!

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