5 months ago I flew from Jakarta to Yogyakarta, an artsy town on the island of Java in Indonesia. The main reason of my trip was the following: Meet most of our team so that I could understand how they work and they could understand the objectives of Manypixels and share their ideas too. Thought I would share a few pics along this article!
Milaa (our Head of Production, first from the right) gave a lot of trainings with the same common theme : Project management and communication.
She started the training and started speaking about one of our main values: “Being Friendly”. As a Westerner I never realised how important this value is here in Asia. Being respectful and friendly towards each other helps us connect, work and grow together. We also decided to implement that value with our clients, since we find we do better work in a friendly environment with them too.
During our trainings, we rarely talk about design quality: Designers actually know how to use their pens and pencils. Rather, most of our trainings are about communication.
Attending Milaa’s trainings led me to think about the bigger picture: How are we managing projects for the whole team at Manypixels (not only with designers)? Should we set up best practices so that every project we do (marketing, sales, but also production) is successful and stuff gets done?
To be honest, while you are reading this it might seem simple on the outside but back then it wasn’t all that obvious: I kept on repeating things or explaining things differently not knowing why the projects were not moving. Since then, I have learned a lot about project management (especially with a team with a different culture), and I thought: Let’s write more about this!
Alright, won’t make you wait any longer, here are my key learnings!
I always have two priorities on my mind as a founder:
The first priority is focus which is : Working on the right things. It does not matter if you work really hard but move into the wrong direction. Take time to think about which needle-moving tasks get the ball rolling for your business! I can’t stress this enough. Take some to talk to the team, spend time in nature so you can get that lightbulb moment and think “This is what we should be working on!”.
The second priority, specifically when managing projects is: Look at yourself in the mirror. Would you understand this project if you were the employee?
2. No excuses mentality
What happens 99% of the time: Projects do not get completed on time. Why is that? Because possible obstacles to their completion haven’t been laid out upfront!
We manage our projects in two ways at Manypixels. Firstly, each week, we have a 15-30min meeting where the team leaders talks about 2 or 3 things they’ve worked on and what they’ll be working on. Each team leader should be focused on removing obstacles for their team members, but also anticipating any possible blockers to their future long term projects. For example, if you are setting up a sales campaign, which email tool will you use? Have you thought about what could go wrong in that campaign not being launched in that day?
Secondly, projects are either done or not. If the task is clear and the deadline is clear then it is up to your team to execute it ruthlessly and there should be zero excuses so as not to do the work.
3. Self-motivated team and best practices
Project management is not simply “I will find the best project management app” and fill it with todo’s. This is a recipe for disaster!
At Manypixels, we do two things in that regard:
1. Hire, train and put the best people on projects that motivate them immensely
This is the difference between good and great employees. Good employees do their work but great employees go above and beyond to complete the task and satisfy the client. A great employee will yield 10x more value to the company.
2. Best practices to undertake projects.
We have a Trello with best practices (we always only put 2-3 tasks in each card, each with a clear due date and a clear explanation with blockers and expected deliverables).
Project management is best tested when things go wrong. If the team is stressed, if the projects are not being done, ask yourself: Could it be the fact that we have no system that work? That we are doing too much things (= Lack of focus), or that we do not have best practices in place?