NewYork2008:Navigating internal politics and relationships

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Politics of Project Management facilitated by Mohammed

Managing relationships with people
Ambiguous authority

In non-profit sector - degree of emotional involvement in the work is more intense than corporate work
Establish formal & informal communication with stakeholders - customize to each stakeholder
Understand what each stakeholder cares about (their concerns, emotional involvement) and manage the relationship with that in mind
People that don't understand technology and are concerned about costs - need extra explanations for simple technical/project needs
Having a decision maker that does not understand technology causes a lot of extra work
Trainings for decision makers on technology does not always work - hard to schedule and gain their interest
Forces PMs to think carefully about projects and what they are doing
Rephrasing things in layman's terms can help PMs fully understand the project/technology
Need to communicate the changes fully to decision makers so they care/are interested in trainings
Personal training sessions for technophobes help them understand technology the way they need to

Managers that "think" they know a lot about technology - challenging, annoying
Need to be able to make a case for the technology being requested (new, cool software needs a purpose)
Why? is always a useful question - why is it needed? what is the purpose?
Delegate right back to person who requests things - ask them to document what they want and often it won't happen
Who is going to maintain cool, new ideas in the organization?

How to have conversations about technology with people who are scared of it
Point to concrete outcomes - time saving, money saving, money making
Stress in dealing with anything technological
Lure people into participation with simple explanations and technical implementations
Strip things down to basic language - simple illustrations or metaphors - a picture is worth a thousand words
"Hot swapping is like working on a plane when its in flight"

Wanting more involvement from higher ups but not getting it
Iterative production for projects where there is not a lot of direction - expect changes
Don't become too wrapped up in the dysfunction and withdraw
Need to have a positive attitude or move on

"Planned vs. emerging projects"
Articulate costs so everyone understands the costs of random projects that come up
Pressure for web-based projects - everything needs to be web-based
Written organizational policy to include IT from the beginning to avoid too many emerging, high priority projects
Establish strong boundaries - give people rules to follow when working with you
"Become the constant buzz-kill" to people's last minute project ideas

Mixing formal and informal communication - email, meetings, and ad-hoc calls and chats all help do the job
Project Management is not a series of switches, its a series of dials - gentle adjustments
There are some people you have to circumvent

How to get everyone involved in an IT project - even if they're not interested
Feed them to get them involved in training/testing - website with shared desktop tools to help train remote people
You may need to try different things to get them involved - face to face interaction
Find someone at the organization who knows how to work with some of the more difficult personalities

*** IT is a great lens into what's wrong in the organization

Educate end users to ease anxiety
A picture is worth a thousand words
Understand that you have to become the constant buzz kill to "emerging projects"
Project Management is not a series of switches, its a series of dials - gentle adjustments