What it means to be a resilient dig­i­tal project lead

If you want to know what great dig­i­tal project lead­ers look like, we look like this.

We are telescopes and microscopes

We focus on the big picture while wrapping our attention around the tiniest details.

We know the whys and the hows of every decision. We look upward to align our organization’s operational, marketing, sales, and project goals together. We smooth out revenue gaps by creating higher value, longer-term relationships with stakeholders and prioritize high impact outcomes efficiently. We make sure the tiniest details within our projects meld with the bigger goals of our organization and our stakeholders to keep our people and ideas aligned. We get business.

We hold time sacred

Our time is our currency and so we treat our calendars with respect.

We use meaningful meetings to drive projects forward. We work with our organizations to propel clarity and understanding to reduce wasted time. We encourage our teams to skip irrelevant meetings. We focus on the act of planning over writing plans that are forgotten. We give back time to honour our teams. We treat time as a science and use deep focused work time to maximize our productivity. We know that monthly burn rates are more important than utilization for forecasting accurate revenue.

We get our hands dirty

We learn our medium and deepen our knowledge so we can ask the very best questions.

Digital project leads are not meant to be subject matter experts, but we should be experts at asking the right questions about every discipline we work in and every niche we touch. That means being perpetual learners, and embracing discomfort by asking wicked questions. We don’t sit on the sidelines while our teams pull up their sleeves, we get dirty alongside them and learn the nuance of the technical, creative, or intuitive pieces that help us move aside obstacles to do our best work.

We run happy projects and happy teams

We work for alignment and harmony with projects and people.

We vet bad ideas at the door and work to create alignment between disparate departments and stakeholders. We choose the simplest path when it is the best one, and choose the most difficult when it needs to be done in the service of our team and future. The first and last question that comes to our minds is ‘should we..?’ and we are not shy with numbers, data, and logic to help us back up a sturdy business case should we need to use it. We look ahead and in front, and not behind us while driving our teams and projects to the finish line.

We lean into and soften resistance

We embrace difficult situations and prickly protocols with open arms.

We poke at silos and prod fear-based decision making. We deny ego—good ideas don’t belong to anyone, they transcend ownership. We manage up and ask more from our leaders as we encourage our teams to ask more from us. We soften to criticism and welcome feedback that helps us be better and do better. We refuse to work in silos. Greatness is earned, not appointed. We protect and champion our teams and insulate them from runaway expectations, from over-committing, from bad ideas. We are not brittle—we are adaptable and malleable.

We are the nuclei & catalyzers of our teams

We propel our teams and projects through the dark.

As the single point of connection between our teams, our managers, our external stakeholders, and our projects, we knit people and ideas together. We prepare them for the future at the front lines. With our ears tuned, we listen for change and watch for new methods and ideas. We spot new ways to improve our processes, we catch ideas that improve our craft, and we introduce practices that help our teams and stakeholders melt ideas down to the elemental. Communication and accountability are our pillars. We prepare our organizations for the future because we know it’s swiftly reshaping our world and we will be ready.

We are lovable hardasses

We set the pace and tone of our projects.

We are not meek: we are authentic, candid, lovable and we are firm. We stand up to people and decisions that put our projects in jeopardy and we guide our stakeholders toward the finish line. We champion our teammates and they work hard for us. We put people before projects and projects before glory. We are dauntless in our attempt to keep people aligned with project goals. We lead with love and we don’t back down.

We are resilient

Nobody knocks us down.

We will not carry the weight of deadlines and the pressure of failure because we put everything in perspective. We do our best and we humorously recognize that as big and serious as our projects are, we are dust orbiting the cosmos. We rise up together and care for each other. We share ideas that strengthen our project management practice. When we get ground down, we stand up again and again and we fight for standards that improve our role, our processes, and our industry. We are worth our weight in pure gold.

We hold tech to account

As project leads, we refuse to support bad ideas.

We ask why. We push back against things that hurt our projects and people. We approach all problems with critical thought and we work hard to promote inclusive, empathetic, anti-oppressive teams. We treat each other with respect, we call out bad products and bad leadership, and we fight for projects that improve our human lives. We believe that technology needs to be accessible to everybody and that we are the gatekeepers of our projects. It is our responsibility to speak up and be stewards to ideas that impact our industry and our world.

We bring democracy to work

Our work supports an equitable future.

We care so much about democracy. Why, then, do we run our companies like dictatorships? Our power comes from our ability to stand up for equitable and safe work environments that take care of us and our teams. When people are informed, treated with dignity, and given a say in their fate, they stay longer, make decisions that benefit the whole org, and cultivate a culture of support and safety. We uphold principles of shared power and democracy through project management.

Related resources

The pillars of project management

To be good at project management we’ve gotta lean on the PM pillars.

Project benchmarking 101

Projects, process, and people health

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