You have been assigned the task of managing a web development integration project with 3rd party providers. You have to manage not only your team now, but multiple teams from several companies, across time zones. All parties have differing priorities, both the deadline and budget have been set and are non negotiable, however the scope is still yet to be agreed and fully defined. You have an overwhelming amount of data to process and lots of conflicting opinions to deal with.
There are many processes, techniques and strategies a DPM could use to tackle this type of project; however, there is one overarching core skill that you need to harness to get this project deployed!
Here are my 5 top tips for sharpening your critical thinking skills when managing integration projects…
As more people, teams, and parties become involved in a project the number of assumptions being made also increases. People may take the evidence or information presented to them and deliberately look for components that support their own point of view, filling in the gaps with their own perspective and therefore not getting all the facts. It is up to the DPM to evaluate information and challenges coming from all angles, and question these assumptions, seeking out the what and the why in every situation. Gathering good evidence, separating facts from opinions and continually questioning ultimately leads to clearer, more rational, and better decision making and conclusions.
Typically with integration projects you will be bombarded with what seems like mountains of data from all parties across multiple communication channels; for example email, Basecamp and Slack. This information overload can lead to much shorter attention spans, causing you to lose not only focus but the ability to manage this information effectively. You will you not only need to discern valuable information from this data but also have a focused attention towards detail. This more considered and reflective approach supports you in managing the data more effectively by discriminating and filtering information for importance, presenting it clearly and concisely to your stakeholders.
Be innovative and see opportunities where others might only see obstacles. Understand the nature of the problem but maintain a focus on identifying a solution. You may never know all the variables but get comfortable and make a start, see what is missing and fix it. Solve problems creatively with a reflective considered approach, make decisions and take action for the successful delivery of the project.
Adopt different perspectives and have a increased awareness of cultural differences within the teams and across all stakeholders. ‘Situational adaptability’ is the ability to respond to unique, unexpected circumstances in the moment. Use your empathy to go beyond the information available including utilising your active listening skills to listen beyond the words being said. Put yourself in the stakeholder’s shoes and consider your impact and the impact of any decisions on all those involved in the project.
“No matter where you sit in an organisation, you can “own the room” if you are able to do two things well: first, demonstrate your authentic value and distinction, and second, connect to others in a positive way…connecting with and impacting others have what the authors call a “signature voice” – Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins
Having a deep understanding and experience in your field of expertise is a given, to maximise your impact you need to have the capacity to converse in the language of a wider depth and breadth of fields. Having the capability to reason across different topics and subjects, specialist fields and disciplines. It’s not about knowing the ins and outs of everyone in your team’s roles but it is about knowing enough to be able to speak with genuine competence and understanding.
Developing strong critical thinking skills you have the ability to adjust nimbly to changing demands and priorities. It requires consistent consideration of new perspectives, new information and adjusting to change. The critical thinker adopts a flexible mindset to find different ways to problem solve, they’re comfortable with creativity and innovation, accepting ideas and trying new things out.
Want to know more about the seven soft skills you need to get ahead as a DPM? As well as practical tips you can start to use straight away? Please visit the Digital Project Managers page 🙂