The seven deadly sins of a Project Manager
Every successful agency is creative in its own way, while all unsuccessful ones have the same problems in project management. What qualities should a PM have?
All agencies have problems in any way. And we too. Another aspect is that for many companies, such PM shortcomings are not flaws at all. Our group culture is such that we pay attention to these problems and try to solve them. Welcome to our kitchen.
Problem 1. There is form, no content
Many PMs do not understand the project essence, do not even try. A real example: instead of a detailed brief, an agency receives a letter in the style of “There is a product, come up with activation in retail.” Well, that's it, it's just a little thing, to forward the message to the creative and then take the answer to the customer. And PM did not even have any questions about competitors' exposition, relationships, strengths, what to press on, what to do. This is bad.
It's good for a PM to examine the problem to understand the business essence. Of course, sometimes there are exceptions when the customer gives ± a specific recipe, and you have to prepare this “dish.” But in a normal format, you need to formalize and work out a business task, goal, coverage, media inventory. If we have a client who wants a "salad," our PMs first find out what is in business, what tasks, what problems, what competitors have, what brand ladder, what conversions. Maybe you don't need a salad? Maybe a cake, or sushi, or khinkali is better?
A good PM and a good team must understand the essence and solve the marketing problem. It is important for our PMs to have meaning in what the team creates. The form is not enough.
This approach is better for the customer, better for the agency, better for PM himself, working with deep and complex tasks. Otherwise, its development is simply impossible.
Problem 2. Misunderstanding of scope
To understand the global plan of the area, you must first understand what is under your feet. To really and qualitatively discuss the topic of a 500k project, you need to understand the scale of this amount and the corresponding risks. The problem of many PMs is that they have never seen the money they plan to use in the proposed project. It is similar to the board game "Manager" when there is a child's interest and excitement, but there is no understanding of what it means to buy the EnergoTeplovozMash plant.
Those who want to work with large tasks must understand the price of the resource and be able to convert it into profit. Therefore, our key PMs are well-to-do and successful people. Many of them have personal entrepreneurial experience. They know the value of words and money. These PMs have a clear understanding that some ideas may be hiding failure. That is, a good manager is a person with investment experience and understanding of the measure of responsibility. Such a PM will think 100 times before proposing a solution. It's just that a good guy is not a profession.
Problem 3. Inability to correctly accept and set a task
The Project Manager's job is to correctly accept the request from the client and structurally decompose it, for example, a creative couple. There is no need to explain what and how to do it. It is the job of an illustrator or a copywriter. But a specific “artisan” must clearly understand what is expected of him. And he himself knows how to do better.
Often the problem is in poor speech and immersion. PM cannot match the expectations of the customer and the creative department in a quality manner. Of course, it may be that the calligrapher chose the wrong pen, but in most cases, the problem is precisely in PM, who did not explain himself correctly enough.
In Brain Tank, “artisans” don't communicate with customers. This is the work of "interpreters." Those who understand the language of business can translate it into methods and means of solution. Accounts and PMs do this. They deeply delve into the customer's tasks, and they are responsible for the result.
Problem 4. Overconfidence
The Dunning-Kruger effect in the 21st century is still at the top. Many young specialists are too self-confident and think that they know better than others. Others are confident only by the form. They receive information from the client and try to unravel it. The former arrogantly does not want to ask questions, and the latter are afraid to do this not to look incompetent fools. Among others, this problem leads to the following.
Problem 5. Lack of communication skills
The "Therapeutic Alliance" is one of the fundamental themes for most psychotherapy schools. Mutual understanding and mutual respect are the basis for successful work on a project. As a psychotherapist, PM must reveal the client and build a sense of trust to work through the issue and solve it successfully.
Many PMs can say, “well, I wrote a letter to the client, he doesn’t answer,” “I called him, he said he would call back and nothing for 2 days”. The problem is, we didn't get the relationship right in the beginning. If there is mutual understanding, the client will see the letter and send a "+" in response even in the absence of time. And then, if possible, he will give a full answer.
Or, returning to the previous point, PM did not understand something but cannot just pick up the phone or write to the customer. In short, this is not the best job for introverts. And the textbook theme “go sell a pen” in this context no longer seems so stupid.
Problem 6. Narrow-mind and grandmother-mind
“Your brand is your friends.” It is essential to understand and feel the general flow. In this regard, the narrow-minded PM and other team members can be a total disadvantage. Such people can spend hours discussing the topics "the customer is a fool," "he does not understand what he wants," "he understands, but he wants the wrong thing," "these are all stupid, and we are great," "but what he wants is not clear at all"…
There is nothing shameful in emotionality, but without reflecting the existing rationality, it is empty, like the space inside Poincaré's "donut." Instead of washing the bones in the smoking room, you can talk to the client and find out “did we understand you correctly,” “and clarify such and such a moment.”
Absolutely all customers want to get a good result. They are 100 times more interested than a designer or PM in making the project a success. They pay time, money, and energy to get better results from the agency. You need to explain why their inner creativity is not the best solution, why your professional approach is optimal, etc. But instead, only cackle on the bench.
Problem 7. The scary term "cybernetics"
This problem can be safely put first, but it is the last because its solution requires the maximum amount of time. The craft is constantly evolving, and the trouble is that many PMs distinguish Encapsulated PostScript from CDRs. Still, they practically do not understand anything about cybernetics, the science of processes inside controlled systems.
A true Project Manager is obliged to understand the topic of project management methodology and information hygiene. To our delight, we have two professional cybernetics at once, and we are gradually growing new ones.
The "Red book" tells about PMs, who are at the same time versed at a high level in design, marketing, and cybernetics. But in the wild, it is hard to meet them. There are two categories of people: managers who are not in the teeth in marketing, and creatives, who cannot always manage themselves.
Therefore, it is always better to take a good cyberneticist with a sense of taste and teach him the intricacies of design. Cybernetics is an extremely different chain of knowledge. It deals with logic and information modifications. Cybernetics is an academic discipline that takes more than one year to comprehend. And while marketing is not academic, it will always be secondary to the art of management.