Friday, October 23, 2015

11 Steps to Successfully Manage House Project

I was really busy recently because of my house interior finishing. Somewhere between the seventh phone call and third visit in Ikea, an idea struck me. I got a project manager role similar to our boss's roles in the IT world. As an agile enthusiast, I'd like to share 11 lessons that I learned. 

1. Know what you want. Everything starts with ideas or more formal requirements. Ideally, every single plan you have should be testable (i.e. after it's done you shall be able to clearly answer one simple question: is that what I wanted?). At this point, you don't have to think about how to things. Make sure they're all possible though. 

2. Pick the right people. Recently I read a great blog about how important IT companies recruitment is. After hearing more terrifying stories about workers from my family & colleagues I realized it may be a very important decision. Fortunately, after thorough, I picked right. Look for internally motivated people (see Daniel Pink Drive for details), have 7 Habits of Highly Successive people, and are recommended by someone you trust (if possible). It won't be easy, but it's an investment worth making. 

3. Pay for responsibility, not for things. That's obviously cliche. However, there is a huge difference between hiring multiple teams to do small jobs and one team to do everything. Avoid split responsibility at any cost. Eventually, something will go wrong and you will have to react. Don't waste time looking for culprits. 

4. Do not save on quality. Well, you may say that I'm Quality Assurance Engineer so that's just selfish statement. I believe technical debt has to be paid eventually, so you end up saving nothing. If something exceeds your budget work hard to earn that money. Buying cheap stuff is just a costly workaround. 

5. Focus on the hardest things, do not micromanage. After picking the right people you shouldn't worry about easy/routine tasks. By looking at their hands constantly you'll only make them angry. Spend your entire energy on things that you believe can go wrong (creative/hard stuff) or focus on things you'll do yourself. 

6. Avoid being a proxy. A lot of times you'll end up doing things that involve three parties (you + 2 strangers). Do not waste time speaking to them alone. Arrange conferences or make them call each other. After a few such occasions, I realized why we have standups. Communication is really the key. 

7. Be open to ideas. Someone else may have better ideas. Do not think you are the smartest person in the world :) 

8. Be creative. For some reason, in our society, there is a huge demand for being mediocre, just like everyone else. Do not give up your dreams only because something is extraordinary. Your working team will gladly do even the weirdest things. They can put it into their portfolio. 

9. If you act, act with boldness. That's the statement which you can find in every Robert Greene book. If something is going wrong do not hesitate. Waiting will only make things worse. That's your money, your house (probably for your family). If you react immediately people can't ignore you. Note that the reaction can't be too emotional. Think straight. 

10. Establish a strong posture. Whether you like it or not you are constantly judged by others. In his brilliant Winning Through Intimidation Robert Ringer explains his struggles as an estate broker. He was constantly cheated until he hadn't established something I'll call 'power aura'. Do not naively think you can go to wear shorts and during a t-shirt during business-making without any consequences. 

11. Send weekly reports to the family. What? You had probably asked it. After sending those reports I realized it helped me to keep up with dozens of ongoing problems/tasks/logistics problems. Do it for yourself, and family will enjoy picture updates :)