Startup Lessons: Project Management (1-4)

For the past 6 months I had the opportunity to be a Project Manager at Ubiqua. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned so far…

On Managing Yourself

“We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle


  1. Keep things Simple. Keep them LEAN.

Keep things easy to understand, easy to log, easy to track. You’ll be managing many moving parts at the same time. The simpler your system, the easier it’ll be to orchestrate a well implemented Client Operation.


Over time, details start to clutter. Tables, charts, lists build up that aren’t necessary anymore. This is where being LEAN is important. LEAN is the ‘systematic elimination of waste’. Periodically evaluate your tools and frameworks, and seek to remove that which isn’t necessary; making them simple again. Keep an archive of old copies if you’re worried about “losing information”.


  1. Debrief Often.

You’ll do a lot. You’ll deal with Senior Managers, IT Specialists, new Users, and many different types of clients. Throughout these, you’ll face many different types of problems in multiple industries. Overcoming these problems is easier if you learn from each experience. This is why it’s so important to debrief often.


Build your own system for taking notes and recording lessons that you can look back to in  future projects. Make sure you include the challenges faced and the next key steps to take in your project. There’s a big chance that you’ll face similar challenges over and over again between different clients. This is a reality for many PM’s. This makes debriefing often an incredibly valuable tool to help you overcome similar challenges you’ve faced before.


  1. Experiment Often.

You’re managing Ops. In my head, this means you love to get “stuff” done, and make things better. But you’ll hit a point where you’ve built a routine and are just running through the same steps over and over again. After a couple times, things will either get stale or get boring. This is where experimenting becomes a valuable tool for sustaining motivation (and learning!).


Every once in a while, try out new ways of doing the same thing. I understand this goes against the whole “don’t fix what ain’t broken” motto, but just because it ain’t broken doesn’t mean it can’t be better.  Experiment often to keep things fresh. Instead of the weekly phone meeting, schedule in an in-person lunch meeting. Instead of that boring progress update, try a different approach to updating the project status. Small experiments like these are just enough to kick-start that creative brain of yours and keep you in top-problem solving shape.


  1. Remember to have fun.

Yes, results matter. Yes, getting things done efficiently matters. Yes, PM is a key driver of the company’s profitability. But remember that at the end of the day what makes being a PM great is the time you’re working ON the project, not just when it’s done. So, bring your quirky style into your PM approach. Tell a joke now and then. Don’t be afraid of becoming friendly with your team. They are people too. That’s what’s supposed to happen to people that work together for extended periods of time. So take the time to get to know your team members. Make sure the experience is both rewarding and fun you and your team.


Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Cheers till next time!


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