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Tackle This Year’s Spooky Halloween Activities Like a Project Manager
Project Management 3 min read

Tackle This Year’s Spooky Halloween Activities Like a Project Manager

Tackling spooky events this Halloween? Here’s how project management software can make your Halloween party the talk of the town.

Ask the Industry Expert: How to Project Manage the Six “Severance” Personalities on Your Team
Wrike Tips 7 min read

Ask the Industry Expert: How to Project Manage the Six “Severance” Personalities on Your Team

If you’ve watched the latest Apple TV® hit Severance, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not, you’ve at least heard the hype – it’s that dystopian/sci-fi series where some people elect to have a brain implant to essentially “sever” the link between their work and personal life consciousness so that their work selves don’t remember their personal selves, and vice versa. Given the myriad types of personalities that project managers need to work with, I found that the six main characters in this series fit really well with some typical archetypes that PMs find themselves working with. So, let’s get into these personalities, and how they map to some familiar stakeholders you may need to communicate with (a note for superfans: this covers only these characters’ innies, not outies): 1.    The “Mark” a. Meta tags for this personality type: Mark is pretty much your ideal boss – trusting, caring, and only a smidge of a tendency to be a rule-breaker, as long as nobody gets hurt. b.    Preferred communication style: Model their model-like professional behavior and you will be fine. c.     Hot buttons: They think a lot about their concerns about you — whether you’re unhappy or have an issue of any kind. They are all about taking care of others and dealing with constant disruptions by trying to keep things at an even keel. d.    Sweet spot for communication: Mark loves for you to simply meet simple expectations. Anything else may throw them off and cause confusion. e.    A project template they would love: This personality would love our Change Request template to help them see how to manage the constant disruption and volatility that a workplace can experience. This will speak to their sensibility, and maybe even garner you a special look with kind eyes. 2. The “Harmony” a.    Meta tags for this personality type: Harmony is a micromanager and uber-company ambassador. This type can be a boss, a boss’s boss, or another higher-up stakeholder. b.    Preferred communication style: Check in and communicate as much as possible – but be short and sweet about it. c.     Hot buttons: Forgetting to cc them or inviting them to meetings really pushes "Harmony's" buttons. Not including them in key conversations will make them feel out of control and out of the loop, which are big fears for them. d.    Sweet spot for communication: The more this personality sees their name everywhere in your documentation and meeting invites, the better. e.    A project template they would love: This personality would love the OKR Template to give them detailed visibility into how all projects tie back to the higher-level strategies that they are responsible for. This will keep their wolfish behavior at bay, and maybe even get you an optional handshake. 3. The “Helly” a.    Meta tags for this personality type: Helly is a rebel with an unknown cause, with uncertainty issues. They could be any team member at any level. b.    Preferred communication style: Offer Helly guideposts to help them manage their ups and downs, but otherwise, don’t bother them too much. c.     Hot buttons: Hovering, putting too many demands on them, and not giving them enough structure or guidance are all touchy areas for Helly. d.    Sweet spot for communication: Having a good listener and someone that can guide them through their experiences is crucial for Helly. e.    A project template they would love: The Roadmap Template would help this personality see where their tasks are leading, how they are interconnected, and the progress of what their work leads to. This will help a person of this type feel more secure, and maybe even get you invited to a team dance party. 4. The “Dylan” a.    Meta tags for this personality type: Dylan is a bit of an egomaniac, snark-master, and also comic relief. They usually fall into the peer-type of resource category, but this can vary. b.    Preferred communication style: Trade some good barbs; make Dylan feel good about the work they are doing. c.     Hot buttons: Taking work too seriously, or not including them in conversations or tasks can annoy Dylan. d.    Sweet spot for communication: Having some lighthearted conversation and looping them in to help solve problems helps Dylan feel comfortable at work. e.    A project template they would love: This personality type would love the Retrospective Template to show them shout-outs for themselves and other team members, and help them feel good about the work they are doing. This will help a person of this type feel more motivated, and maybe even inspire them to get a glass sculpture made with an image of your team. 5. The “Milchick” a.    Meta tags for this personality type: Milchick is a watchdog – they can be a mid-level manager, team manager, functional manager, or another supervisory role with a team of direct reports. b.    Preferred communication style: Be available and responsive at all times, or Milchick will come looking for you. c.     Hot buttons: Not being in your seat (or at-the-ready on Slack) during your working hours, or really any appearance of rule-breaking is a red flag for Milchick. d.    Sweet spot for communication: The more they see you in person or online doing what you are supposed to be doing, the more Milchick will like what you do. e.    A project template they would love: This personality type is all about the Kanban board – to see quickly and easily what everyone is working on and their real-time progress. This will make this type so happy, that maybe you’ll even throw you a waffle party. 6. The “Irving” a.     Meta tags for this personality type: Irving is a by-the-book, process-hound, regular drinker from the Kool-Aid fountain. They could be a teammate or someone who has been at your company long-term. b.    Preferred communication style: Irving likes to be looped in and directed using language from the company handbook. c.     Hot buttons: Stepping out of protocol is a no-no for Irving unless you are taking a trip to their favorite department. d.    Sweet spot for communication: Using the company lingo as much as possible to get your points across will put you right on Iriving's radar. e.    A project template they would love: The Security Governance and Compliance Checklist is perfect for this personality type to clearly see the protocols that ensure compliance with governance guidelines. This will make this type feel so policy-giddy, they may even forget to say their cringe-inducing, trademark greeting to you. And there you have it. Whether you’re refining data, or are in any other industry or sector where you are managing teams, chances are that there are correlations between who you manage and the templates that will serve them well. As Wrike is both the compiled and the manifested blend of “work,” “life,” and “right” (the polar opposite of Severance's plot), I wish you all a happy Wrike-ing. Chris Hare is an award-winning author and certified program and project management professional with 16 years of experience working for such companies as Adobe, Patagonia, and Guitar Center. Her tenure includes managing hundreds of successful projects for a myriad of client- and agency-side organizations, PMO permutations, and methodologies. At her current role at Wrike, she lends her industry thought leadership and subject matter expertise through product innovations, events, mentor groups, and blog columns. Have a question you’d like Chris to answer? Send us an email! Featured image: Apple TV Plus

Wrike's Favorite Christmas Songs (A YouTube Playlist)
Productivity 5 min read

Wrike's Favorite Christmas Songs (A YouTube Playlist)

We thought it would be great fun to assemble a Christmas video playlist of a few of our favorite songs for the Holiday Season. So here are our top 14 Christmas tracks.

Santa's Secrets to Christmas Productivity
Productivity 3 min read

Santa's Secrets to Christmas Productivity

It's been a question for centuries: How does Santa Claus get all the gifts ready and fly around the world to deliver every present on Christmas Eve? While you're sitting around roasting chestnuts on an open fire, Santa and his friendly helpers are busy counting down the days left until Christmas. We have the inside scoop on how he gets it all done in time — straight from ol' Saint Nick himself! A few decades ago, Santa was struggling with accountability and lost information. He had no way to assign work to his elves, and The List was missing some important notes. He almost ALWAYS had to check it twice. Ever since Santa switched to Wrike to manage Christmas, his crew has been able to dole out assignments, manage work leading up to their biggest milestone (Christmas Eve), and accurately track the lists of naughty and nice children. Here are his top 3 Wrike secrets to getting everything done before Christmas: 1. Build a Timeline to Help With Pre-Christmas Planning At the beginning of each year, Santa and his helpers map out their plans for the next 12 months on a Gantt chart. They schedule when The List needs to be finalized, as well as when gifts need to be completed leading up to their big delivery date on Christmas Eve. Santa turns to this feature when he needs a high-level view of the toy-making tasks to make sure nothing is falling through the cracks. Since Christmas Eve is set as a milestone, Santa can move around the order in which work is being done without accidentally pushing production past the Big Day. 2. Create a Folder and Identify Who's Been Naughty or Nice Santa creates The List right in Wrike. He creates a Wrike folder titled "The List" and each individual on The List is has their own task. The Christmas wishes of individuals are included in their task description. Santa also leaves comments on each task to record good behavior he's noticed throughout the year. When people on The List volunteer, help someone need, or maybe make peace with the in-laws, he'll write down their good deeds for future reference. His uses his Custom Statuses "Naughty" and "Nice" to mark The List accordingly — so be good for goodness sake! 3. Assign Workers to Build the Gifts Once The List is finished and Christmas is nigh, Santa begins assigning his helpers to their tasks. He creates a folder called "The Gifts" and makes tasks for presents requested on The List by people marked as "Nice". Each task is tagged with the name of the individual requesting it, and assigned to the elf that will build it for them. So there you have it! Santa's secrets are out and that time of the year is upon us. We hope these tips made you chuckle and delight, and help make your holidays a little more merry and bright. We only gave away a few of Santa's tricks in this post. What other Wrike features do you think he uses to manage Christmas? Share your creative ideas in the comments!

Ho-Ho-How Santa's Workshop Manages Christmas
Project Management 5 min read

Ho-Ho-How Santa's Workshop Manages Christmas

Santa Claus: one of the most well-known, eagerly anticipated, and incredibly successful entrepreneurs in history. Each year he oversees the production and distribution of toys to every single child on his Nice List — and with over 1.9 billion children on Earth, that's a lot of toys! He hasn't missed a year yet, but that's not to say it's all sunshine and snow angels. I met Mr. Claus for a cup of hot cocoa and he shared a few tips about how he runs the most successful toy workshop out of the North Pole. Not surprisingly, the big man has taken some project management training courses.  From the jolly good fellow himself, here's how Santa's workshop manages to pull off Christmas: Plan and evaluate every day leading up to the Big Give. We always start our new year of toy production by outlining the requirements and scope for pulling off a successful Christmas. That means outlining all 365 days leading up to the finale, not just the 12 days that everyone sings about. It's a long process, but it sets the workshop up for another successful year. Our planning meetings are supplemented by many glasses of milk and platters of cookies to get all the elves excited. We review "The List" from years past to see how many gifts we gave, and predict how many children will make the Nice list this year.  We do some market research to guess what toys will be high in demand this year. Yes, even Santa goes online! We set up benchmarks to hit throughout the year. How many dolls will we make by February, March, April, etc.? We also calculate the projected workload compared to how many elves we have employed this year, and then see if we need to hire additional help to meet our goals. Santa's Crumb of Wisdom: Take time to plan out every step of your project, and make sure you have the resources necessary to fulfill your goals. Consider every voice, big or small. I get letters from children all over the world 365 days a year. Billy wants a puppy; Jane wants a Princess Elsa doll. Since they take the time to send me their wishes, I read what they have to say and take their letters into consideration. If we're already making Princess Elsa dolls, I will certainly give one to Jane — why not please her when it's easily within my power? Billy is difficult though, since we typically let parents give out the new pets. Sometimes I have to upset a few children by deciding to say no, but I always make sure to listen first before rejecting their ideas.  Santa's Crumb of Wisdom: Hear and actually consider what everyone — especially every customer — has to say, and THEN make your decision. Prepare for changes to The List. The real challenge at my workshop is managing fluctuations of "The List." Wishy-washy children have a tendency to change what they want ("I don't like Princess Elsa anymore, I want Olaf!"), or jump back and forth between Naughty and Nice, and the number of toys we need to produce changes accordingly. Every year we further refine our Nice-to-Naughty List algorithm, but it is still impossible to control these outside influencers! Our solution has been to insert some padding into our toy production timeline so that we don't miss our benchmarks even when the children are unpredictable. Santa's Crumb of Wisdom: Analyze your project risks and plan how you will deal with them ahead of time. Clearly communicate processes — from who's in charge to how to wrap a gift. My Head Elf manages the whole project, from start until Christmas Day. She's responsible for closely tracking our project progress. Accordingly, she dictates what's on the production lines each day. If we need more bricks or dolls, the elves in those departments hear it from her, no one else.  Personally, I check in with her weekly to get a progress update, and I let her know if there are any changes to The List via our project management tool so she can properly adjust the toy production plan. Santa's Crumb of Wisdom: Set up communication guidelines in advance so everyone knows whom to go to with questions or problems. Schedule snow days. I think it's important to reward my elves with well-deserved breaks. It builds loyalty to the workshop so that they'll come back again next year. Cookie breaks: We frequently take cookie breaks together for a mid-day sugar rush of productive energy and some bonding time — which is important when you spend so much time together. Celebrating achievements: When we hit our half-way benchmark last year, the elves celebrated with a huge snowball fight that lasted over 4 hours! I did not win — those elves are nimble! Holiday breaks: After we've finished our delivery, December 26th until January 1st is always a company-wide holiday as a thanks for 360 days of hard work. Every elf is encouraged to relax, spend time with their families, and go reindeer-back riding. Santa's Crumb of Wisdom: If you want to keep your team happy, make sure they know you appreciate them! Actions speak louder than words; group outings make for fun bonding time. Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! Don't want to rely on Santa to bring everyone gifts this year? Read this next: 34 Holiday Buys for Productivity Junkies (Gift Guide)

10 Reasons Projects Fail: Lessons from the Death Star
Project Management 10 min read

10 Reasons Projects Fail: Lessons from the Death Star

Here I am. Sitting in a dingy cantina on some dusty backwater planet, the remnants of the Empire scattered to the far corners of the galaxy while some rebel scum occupies the capital on Coruscant. Where did it all go wrong? If you ask me, it comes down to the Death Star projects. I had friends on those Death Stars — I only barely got off the first one alive myself — and I've put a lot of thought into this. I've scrutinized every detail to pinpoint the fatal errors. These are the 10 key mistakes that led to the failure of the Death Stars, and ultimately, the collapse of the Empire. Death Star I 1. Insufficient project requirements The Death Star was meant to be the ultimate weapon, and in that sense it succeeded: a super laser capable of destroying a planet with a single blast, plus 15,000 laser, ion, and turbolaser batteries. It fulfilled every requirement. But the plans only considered offensive measures, and failed to imagine the need for real defense. And as we all know, the defenses weren't tight enough to prevent individual starfighters from infiltrating and causing catastrophic damage. Don't make the same mistake: It's not enough to just plan for risks and challenges that could affect your project as you're working on it. You need to carefully consider how your completed project is going to function in the real world when writing your requirements. What situations or events could create problems, or cause your finished product to break down/fail? 2. Failure to recognize risk General Tagge: “Until this station is operational, we are vulnerable. The Rebel Alliance is too well equipped. They’re more dangerous than you realize.”Admiral Motti: "Dangerous to your starfleet commander, not to this battle station."Video clip  Invulnerable projects do not exist, as Motti and every other Imperial officer on board learned the hard way when the first Death Star disintegrated. If your project has a susceptible thermal exhaust port, you need to know about it — even if it is only two meters wide. If I hadn't been reassigned to a transport ship as punishment for getting ambushed by Solo and Skywalker, I'd be a sprinkle of space dust right now. Don't make the same mistake: No project is too big to fail, and no project is too small to skirt risk. Conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify potential threats and opportunities. 3. No risk management strategy "Any attack made by the rebels against this station would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they've obtained. This station is now the ultimate power in the universe."— Admiral MottiVideo clip Against all odds, the Rebels got their hands on the Death Star plans and found a weakness. But the Empire didn't do anything to mitigate the threat: no contingency plans, evacuations, or deploying a patrol of TIE fighter squadrons for defense. Instead, Tarkin shrugged it off — so certain in the Death Star's invincibility that he didn't even bother to get off once it was under attack. RIP, Grand Moff Tarkin. Don't make the same mistake: Identifying risk and keeping a wary eye isn't enough. Have a project contingency plan in place, so your team is clear on what to do if an identified risk becomes reality. Be proactive in dealing with potential problems, respond quickly if they occur, and do what you can to keep them from happening in the first place. 4. Managers lack necessary skills to aid collaboration & project success Have you ever worked under an unreasonable manager? Imagine reporting to Vader or Tarkin. Not exactly approachable. And they certainly didn't encourage us to work together or offer new ideas. I heard one guy suggest new stormtrooper helmets (so we could actually see to shoot), and he got Force-choked and tossed into the reactor core. Yeesh. Don't make the same mistake: Make yourself available to help out with questions and hangups. Offer advice and tools to support collaboration. And encourage your team to share suggestions or new ideas, instead of just following your orders to a T. Be glad you don't report to these guys.  5. Choosing a pet idea without considering all the options "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."— Senator Leia Organa, AKA Prisoner of Detention Cell 2187 As Tarkin himself said, the Death Star's purpose was to keep local systems in line through fear. But wouldn't Super Star Destroyers stationed in key systems do the trick just fine? Or a few garrisons of stormtroopers? No, the Death Star was a vanity project to show off the Empire's technological might and mercilessness. But instead of intimidating local planets into submission, it inspired more star systems to join the rebellion. Talk about backfiring. Don't make the same mistake: Consider all the possible solutions to your problem, and only then decide on the best approach. Don't jump on the first idea you have, or just follow the easiest path. Death Star II 6. Failure to reflect & learn from past mistakes This one's truly a head-scratcher. After the first Death Star was destroyed, the Emperor insisted on pushing full steam ahead on the second Death Star's construction. Although he made sure the thermal exhaust port weakness was fixed, he repeated many of the same mistakes: believing that a bigger Death Star with more firepower would ensure victory. Don't make the same mistake: Hold a retrospective after each project. What worked well? What could be improved? Then take that knowledge and apply it to future projects. That way your process is always getting better instead of growing stale with repetitive, fruitless, or counterproductive projects. 7. A stakeholder insists on unrealistic commitments The Emperor was dead set on getting the second Death Star fully operational ASAP, insisting on an unreasonable timeline that Jerjerrod's team just wasn't equipped to meet. The only possible result was sloppy work or missed deadlines. And sure enough, without the protection of Endor's energy shield, the Death Star's vulnerabilities made it easy pickings for the Rebel fleet. Don't make the same mistake: Managing an unreasonable stakeholder is very possible (provided you don't work for a Dark Lord who gets his kicks electrocuting or choking subordinates). When faced with an unrealistic demand, present several feasible alternatives and let the stakeholder choose which approach is preferable. Or, let them know what resources you'll need to make their request doable. 8. Insufficient resources Jerjerrod: "But the Emperor asks the impossible! I need more men.”Vader: "Then perhaps you can tell him when he arrives. He is most displeased with your apparent lack of progress." Bottom line: Commander Jerjerrod didn't have the men he needed to get the Death Star operational on time. He asked repeatedly for additional resources, but Vader and Palpatine shrugged him off. We all know what happened as a result.... Bartender! Another drink in honor of my fallen comrades. Don't make the same mistake: Completed projects don't materialize out of sheer willpower, and you can't expect your team to fulfill requirements if they don't have the necessary resources. Ask them what they need, and then do your best to provide it — or create a plan that doesn't require those resources. 9. Leadership undermines team morale and success "Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them."— Vader Vader thought that people whose very survival hinged on their job performance would meet every expectation. Far from it! By killing every admiral and captain who slipped up, all he accomplished was constant turnover of leadership — and stalled progress as a result. Don't make the same mistake: Did you know people are actually more productive when they're in a good mood? (Safe to say the Empire missed that memo.) Cultivate confidence and a happy work environment and watch your progress soar. 10. Side projects distract from your main goal When Vader wasn't killing key officers or terrorizing underlings, he was busy searching for the Skywalker kid. He was so distracted, it's no wonder project work was disorganized, behind schedule, and prone to mistakes! Don't make the same mistake: Stay focused on the work at hand. Multitasking is a sure-fire productivity killer — don't let distractions kill your entire project, too. BONUS: Starkiller Base With the Galactic Empire in ruins, a new military junta sprang up in its place: The First Order. Building on the empire’s research into dark energy translations and hyperspace tunneling, the First Order built an unofficial third Death Star known as Starkiller Base. For a while, it seemed that all the major lessons were learned from the first Death Star’s failures: Better use of resources: Without access to all of the empire’s resources, the Starkiller Base project was scaled back in all the right ways to do more with less. Instead of a highly mobile floating space station, it’s built from a hollowed out, moon-sized planet. This cuts down on the costs and complexity of shipping materials and building in space. Destructive power, however, remains uncompromised. The base is able to take down multiple planets at once, giving the First Order more bang for their buck (pun intended). Better QA: The First Order learned some lessons from the security vulnerabilities and bugs of the Death Star I and II. Starkiller Base was protected by multiple systems including a planetary shield, Stormtrooper garrisons, and squadrons of TIE fighters. But there was one major con that ultimately led to its failure... Failure to use a cloud-based system to manage the project. Unfortunately for Kylo Ren, Snoke, Hux, and the rest of the First Order, the shield control was localized on the base. In the event of a malfunction or sabotage, the planet would be left completely unprotected until technicians could be brought on site to fix the problem. This vulnerability was exploited by the Resistance, causing the entire project to implode… literally. Don’t make the same mistake: Cloud-based project management solutions offer the simplicity and reliability essential to success. It’s critical that your team has the ability to access and edit projects wherever they are. If you’re not using a cloud-based system, you’re vulnerable to far less than an attack by the Resistance. A natural disaster, theft, or even spilled coffee could destroy your data and leave your work in smoldering ruins. Ay... Just thinking about these mistakes makes my head hurt. I need another Ebla beer. Your turn! You've heard the rumors. Share your thoughts on the Death Star fiasco, or other projects you've seen implode.   

6 Reasons Home Alone's Kevin McAllister is a Project Management Genius
Project Management 5 min read

6 Reasons Home Alone's Kevin McAllister is a Project Management Genius

It’s the time of the year: everyone’s humming carols, organizing cookie swaps, and re-watching their favorite classic Christmas movies. During a screening of Home Alone here at Wrike HQ, we couldn’t help but notice the young protagonist's stellar project management skills, and started taking notes.

How to Throw a Killer Office Holiday Party Your Team Will Love
Collaboration 5 min read

How to Throw a Killer Office Holiday Party Your Team Will Love

Holding an office holiday party? You don’t need a huge budget or lavish event to make your team feel special! All you need are a few creative ideas. Here are our tips for throwing a holiday bash your team will rave about all year long.

Announcing the Winners of Our Awkward Collaboration Caption Contest
Collaboration 3 min read

Announcing the Winners of Our Awkward Collaboration Caption Contest

You commented, and we noticed! Over the past couple of weeks, we've posted photos of awkward collaboration moments on social media and asked you to fill in the captions. We went through all the submissions and selected the funniest, most outlandish, and cleverest captions for each photo. Congrats to all the winners!

Can't We All Just Get Along? How to Collaborate with Relatives on Thanksgiving
Collaboration 3 min read

Can't We All Just Get Along? How to Collaborate with Relatives on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is that time when families come together to give thanks for all the good things that happened throughout the year. There's turkey, conversations, overflowing food, and, boy, can there be drama. For many of us, it seems like the minute you need to collaborate with your relatives on a project as major as Thanksgiving dinner, friction appears. So how do you deal with this? How do we all just GET ALONG?     We previously posted about how to project manage Thanksgiving dinner, so check that out first for some solid tips on making sure the dinner is successful and pleases all stakeholders.  What we want to underscore however, is that there are concrete ways to ensure smooth collaboration, even among the prickliest of in-laws. Our tried-and-tested tips:   1. Over Communicate Details and Expectations. Communicate the important dates and times: which days and what times people are arriving, what time you're serving the food on the day itself, etc. Include your expectations for the type of menu you want to serve. But remember, make sure you communicate that this is a suggestion only. Because if you want to avoid friction you need to pay attention to tip #2.  2. Don't Micromanage!  Collaboration is about each person bringing in their ideas and contributing to a whole. This means: allow your collaborators to chime in with their ideas for food, decor, music, whatever else you need. Don't dictate what they bring. Allow it to come from them. Even if it doesn't fit with your idyllic vision (e.g. someone just volunteered to bring chicken curry for a themed Italian dinner), don't shut them down. If they're dead set on bringing it, you'll only create ill will by blocking them. Simply remind them about the suggested theme, but in the end, let them bring what they want. Hold on. Are you frothing at the mouth already because your vision for a perfectly themed dinner won't be fully realized?  Then you need #3. 3. Accept the Chaos Gracefully.  Thanksgiving dinners will always generate a small percentage of havoc. It's part and parcel of the family experience, of people living far apart coming together. People might bring weird desserts. In-laws may make comments about your shabby decor. Or about one another's inferior cooking techniques. Or about Aunt Emma's affair. Smile! Be gracious! And if needed, there's a bottle of Chardonnay in the back of the cabinet that you can use to soothe your nerves.    4.  Look at the Silver Lining. In the end, it all boils down to how you choose to perceive the final product. You have a home full of loving (though maybe sometimes exasperating) people gathered about you, and a feast that would feed several starving nations twice over. Even if it doesn't go according to the plans in your head, you've come up with a product (the dinner, the experience) that still somehow pleases its intended audience (your family, loved ones, in-laws, out-laws). And THAT, my dear friends and blog readers, is what it's all about.  Cheers, and happy Thanksgiving!  IMAGE CREDITS: Kenny Louie on Flickr. Some rights reserved. 

Don't Become a Project Manager from Hell!
Project Management 3 min read

Don't Become a Project Manager from Hell!

Being a PM aint easy, but there's no reason to do what these Project Managers from Hell did to their teams.

Enjoy the Turkey: A Project Manager’s Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving Day
Project Management 5 min read

Enjoy the Turkey: A Project Manager’s Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving Day

Many people see project management as a complicated tangle of work breakdown structures, spreadsheets, critical path timelines, risk assessments… There’s a reason they give out certifications for this stuff! But as David Allen astutely points out everyone is a project manager — especially on Thanksgiving Day.  What size turkey do you need? What if dinner’s ready, but the guests are late? Or they show up two hours early? Is there such a thing as gluten-free gravy? With so many variables to juggle and plans to coordinate, let’s turn to the experts: how would a certified project manager pull off the perfect Turkey Day? Step 1: Define your scope. How big of a celebration do you want? How many guests? Do you want to break out the good china or would you rather have a casual, "grab a plate and have at it" meal? Is dinner served at precisely 4 pm, or would you rather have an all-day, "drop in and grab a piece of pie" affair?  Project Manager’s Tip: Don’t do more than you need to. If your guests aren’t going to notice or care about hand-lettered, gold-foiled name cards, don’t waste the time, money, and effort creating them.  Step 2: Make a plan. Sort out your menu, whom you’re going to invite, who’s bringing what, figure out the seating chart, create your shopping list.  Project Manager’s Tip: Be realistic. Don’t plan a 6-course gourmet feast if you’ve never peeled a potato before.  Step 3: Map out your timeline.  If you value your sanity, you can’t just fly by the seat of your pants — you need an organized itinerary. Schedule what you’re going to make ahead of time and when. Figure out what time everything needs to go in the oven and in what order for it all to come out at just the right time.  Project Manager’s Tip: Do the risky stuff first, if possible. If you’ve never made homemade cranberry sauce, don’t try it for the first time an hour before the turkey’s done. It’ll be less stressful for you and you’ll probably get better results if you buffer in some extra time around any uncertainties. Step 4: Assess the risks. What’s the likelihood your fad-diet-obsessed cousin will be eating Paleo this year? What if someone drops the gravy boat? What do you need a backup plan for, and what can you shrug off?  Project Manager’s Tip: Remember that not everything is worth worrying about. If a risk or issue won’t have a major impact on your day, don’t bother bending over backwards to address it.   Step 5: Work with your stakeholders. Ah, family. They’re a lovable bunch, but they can be a handful. Your sister-in-law claims she makes the world’s best pumpkin pie, but that's been your mom’s territory for ages. Share your planned menu and let people pick what they'd like to bring. If conflicts arise, be flexible when you can! After all, who's going to complain about two pumpkin pies?  Project Manager’s Tip: Communicate early and often to keep surprises to a minimum. Step 6: Collaborate with your team. Most of all, a great Thanksgiving takes teamwork. You’ll need to delegate certain tasks to other people, or count on others to help you if you want to pull off a successful holiday. Besides, people usually want to help out!  Project Manager’s Tip: Just because you’re the "manager," doesn’t mean everything has to be done your way. If your sister wants to buck convention and bring a turducken, why not? You never know — it could be the start of a fun new tradition!  Step 7: Don’t forget the retrospective. At the end of the day, when your family is drowsy from an overload of tryptophan and carbs, your sink is piled high with gravy-crusted dishes, and the candles are burning low, take a few minutes to reflect on the day and everything that went well.  Project Manager’s Tip: Focus on the highlights! Everyone worked hard to make the day successful, so remember to say thank you. It's what the whole day is about! It'll help you fully appreciate a job well done. Ultimately, the important thing to remember is that Thanksgiving is not a day to manage. It’s a day to savor. It doesn’t need to be perfect — and that’s good, because things will go wrong. The green beans may be soggy, and your aunt may still forget to bring the cranberry sauce even though you've reminded her three times. But if you spend the day surrounded by loved ones, laughing and making memories that bring a smile in the year to come, your Thanksgiving project will be a resounding success. So take off your project management uniform and just enjoy it! Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Wrikers!

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