Podcast Episodes

Episode 4: Create a Project Plan (w/ Brett Harned)

February 15, 2022 | | Brett Harned

Corey and Deane talk about how project plans rarely stay intact upon first contact with real life, all while wondering why anyone would really want the thankless job of being a project manager in the first place. Then, Brett Harned, author of Project Management for Humans, joins the podcast to talk about project planning — how to plan for a variance of skills within a standard project plan, creating better retrospectives, and how to help become better clients and teams. And, Brett talks to us about his record collection.

The Web Project Guide podcast is sponsored by Blend Interactive, a web strategy, design, and development firm dedicated to making great things for the web.

Show Notes and Further Discussion:


Corey: (00:00)
Hello, this is the Web Project Guide podcast and this is episode four, Create a Project Plan. I'm Corey Vilhauer, director of strategy at Blend Interactive and co-author of the Web Project Guide. Later on, we'll talk to Brett Harned, author of Project Management For Humans, about what it takes to create a project plan and set it up for success. But first I'm joined by the other Web Project Guide co-author, Deane Barker, senior director of content management research at Optimizely. Hey, Deane.

Deane: (00:35)
Hey, Corey. This, I just want to stress to all listeners, was a chapter that Corey wrote, because if there's one thing that I am utterly hopeless at, it's managing a project.

Corey: (00:46)
I was thinking about this yesterday because, at risk of sounding like a nerd, but knowing I actually sound like a really cool dad, I lead a D&D group for two 14-year-olds and two 12-year-olds. And what I do is I plan out a good chunk of what I need to do at each session. I put together like, "These are the battles you're going to face." And the idea of D&D being that it's a little bit open world and they can make whatever decisions they want. And regardless of what I do, even if I try to plan lots of different angles, regardless, they throw some wrench in, because they're two 14-year-olds and two 12-year-olds. That involves like asking a bartender for a shot, and then I have to navigate the difficult conversation of, "Do I let my 12-year-old drink a shot of fantasy booze?" What I'm trying to say is, not unlike project management, every time I try to create some kind of project plan, they ruin it.

Deane: (01:48)
So, this is that quote, "No plan survives first contact with the enemy."

Corey: (01:53)

Deane: (01:54)
Do you think there is a type of project that would be wildly repeatable from a project planning standpoint? I think it would require the same tech stack, the same team and very similar clients every single time, which you hardly ever get.

Corey: (02:10)
Yeah, it would have to be something that's deeply productized. It would have to be something like... I mean, I guess in a perfect world, you launch a Squarespace site and all the work's already been done. So, the "project team," quote-unquote, has already done something and it's sending off to somebody else to deal with it. It's entering edit mode before you ever have to do any actual development on it. But as far as a web project, you see it in some industries. You see it in higher ed a lot. You see productized. You have certain CMSs that are really tied to, this is one project plan and this is pretty much what you do and anything above and beyond that costs you extra money. But otherwise, no. Because every client's different, every project's different, every piece of content's different.

Deane: (02:53)
Yeah. It's interesting that you bought up higher ed because the two most famous CMSs in the higher ed space would be TERMINALFOUR and OmniUpdate. And I know that both of those CMSs are very, very often sold with a services component and the services component comes with its own philosophy. I remember that we were doing a project with one of those vendors and they kept explaining to us that, "We have a process that we use and you have to conform to our process," which does bring up the next point, which is everybody has a process, right? Everybody has a style of managing a project. Some customers have no process, so they adapt to yours. But sometimes we work with large organizations and they have their own process, and you have to go through this reconciliation process where you need this report every two weeks and I need this report every week, and you call it this and I call it this. And you have to agree whose style, my place or yours kind of conversation.

Corey: (03:54)
The first talk I actually ever gave at a conference was at Confab, and it was about this idea of methodology. And it kind of fell along the same idea of, where do you balance having a rigid structure versus allowing yourself the movement to be able to actually create something interesting? And I think that's where we find some frustration with that really, really deeply structured process that doesn't ever get to move. And somebody wants something special and you don't get that something special. And usually the balance is that it costs less to do that. I mean, there's a significant cost savings if you don't get specialized at all. But that latitude to move is what's probably the most difficult thing to really plan for and it's what really throws... It's what every services company wants to do. They want to be able to say, "Yes, we'll be able to do everything you want to do," but also, every time something moves it throws the plan into a weird spiral.

Deane: (04:54)
So, it's a balancing act between rigidity, I mean, formalness and informalness, right?

Corey: (05:00)
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Deane: (05:00)
Laid back-ness. And I think the goal of a project manager, of which I am not one, we will hear from one later, but I was a terrible project manager, but my feeling from serving on a lot of project teams is that the goal is to be as laid back as reasonably possible. As laid back as you can be and no more. Because teams work better when they have, I would say, loose boundaries. You need some kind of boundaries and some kind of framework for getting your work done, but micromanaging never helped anybody. And so you want to be just as laid back as you can, but no more than that, right?

Corey: (05:33)

Deane: (05:34)
So, that's characteristic of the best project teams I ever served on. And if I was a decent project manager, that is the type I would strive to be.

Corey: (05:44)
I think we said this last month, but I'm not sure who ever wants to be a project manager. I am in the same boat as you. I can't imagine doing the job. It seems thankless and horrible and I'm very thankful for every good project manager I've ever had.

Deane: (05:57)
That's it. Does anybody decide they want to be a project manager? Is there a degree in project management? I don't believe there is a primary degree in project management. There is-

Corey: (06:09)
There's got to be. It has its own certifications.

Deane: (06:11)
The PMP, right? The PMP.

Corey: (06:12)

Deane: (06:12)
I actually studied at PMP... or PMI is the Project Management Institute.

Corey: (06:18)

Deane: (06:18)
And they have a certification called the PMP, which is Project Management Professional. And I actually once, hilariously, thought I was going to study to get a PMP. That would be entertaining. So, I went and got what they called the PMBOK. P-M-B-O-K. The Project Management Body of Knowledge. The PMBOK. This is like the textbook for the PMP. And you learn pretty quick that the PMI Institute was designed around a certain type. It was started around a certain type of project. And that is building big buildings, skyscrapers. I mean, I would say the zenith of project management is building a skyscraper. I mean, it really is, when you think about it. Building a skyscraper is an enormous amount of widely varied tasks that have to come together on a very rigid timeframe with incredible dependencies.

Deane: (07:06)
And so the PMI, the Project Management Institute, was really started around construction project management, and it was expanded from there. So, I started reading the PMBOK and I realized this is why I'm not a project manager, because I'm hopeless. But I mean, beyond that, I mean, that is not a primary degree, right? That's not something you would go to college for. So, does anyone go to college and say, "I really want to be a project manager?", or is it something that you just stumble into? And when I say stumble into, in no way do I mean to marginalize all the project managers, but I just don't know that that's a target occupation for anybody.

Corey: (07:38)
We'll get a lot of feedback. I'm sure there's probably millions of degrees at some place, and we're going to get all of them tweeted at us at some point.

Deane: (07:45)
I know, right? Let me have a really questionable story in the middle of this. I turned 50 a few months ago, and so a few weeks ago I had to have my first colonoscopy. So, my brother is hilarious and my brother was over for Christmas. And he was talking about... He said, "You would think that they would take doctors that are bad and need to be punished and force them to do the colonoscopies." But he says, "No, these people choose to do this." So, my brother maintains that gastroenterologists are the saints of medicine because they literally choose to do this certain type of procedure all day long. And the same could be said of project managers. Project managers, you would think they would just take a bad employee and punish them by making them be a project manager. But no. People choose to do this and they choose to do it very well. And so maybe they're the saints of IT. And that's how project management relates to my colonoscopy.

Corey: (08:33)
Well, Deane, they both deal with assholes, so maybe that's part of it, too.

Deane: (08:39)
And they both deal with me, to some extent. Okay, well, I'm glad that I could get my colonoscopy wiggled into this.

Corey: (08:45)
That's good. Let's move on, please. We will... I can't. You know what? I can't transition from colonoscopy to our next guest because that's not fair to him, definitely. Brett Harned, author of Project Management for Humans, is going to be our guest today. He was one of the first voices to really come out of the digital project management space. And he continues that tradition with the Digital PM Summit, which was the original conference for digital PMs. It began nearly a decade ago and continues to this day. But first, this episode of the Web Project Guide podcast is brought to you by Blend Interactive, a web strategy design and development firm dedicated to creating and maintaining custom content management projects. Blend's been building big content-focused websites for 16 years, and we are always looking for our next big project. So, visit us at blendinteractive.com.

Corey: (09:46)
All right. We're back. Let's welcome our guest, Brett Harned. Hi, Brett.

Brett: (09:49)
Hey. Thanks for having me.

Corey: (09:51)
Yeah. Thanks for being on the podcast.

Brett: (09:53)

Corey: (09:54)
Here's what I want to do. I would like to get a real quick definition quick. In the book, we outline what we've always used as an initial project management deliverable, which is a strategic project plan. So, it's like, what's the scope? What are the requirements? A reiteration of all of the things that we've discussed up to that point, but we understand this is just one of what could be many different definitions. When you hear the term project plan, what do you think of?

Brett: (10:23)
Yeah. It's a good question. To me, as a digital project manager, a project plan is really the roadmap for your project. I would say it aligns to your scope and basically charts out how you'll arrive at the delivery of a final product. So, in a project plan I would expect to see essentially a line-by-line accounting of how the project should go. And it would include things like your project phases, the deliverables within those phases, the tasks, the sub-tasks, the due dates associated with those things. If there are any dependencies in those tasks, I would expect those to be mapped out. And sometimes even in a plan I would expect to see assignments. I think there's a ton of information in project plans that I think can help you to really keep track of the work and that's what a project plan is for, in my opinion.

Brett: (11:22)
But I also think that a big part of a project plan is that it's a communication. It's probably one of the strongest forms of communication I think you can put out there on a project because it does include so much information. And to me, I would say a plan is like a living, breathing document that should evolve and should change as you make progress through the course of a project. And I would say for all of those reasons, everyone's accountable to that plan. Not just the project manager, but your team, your stakeholders, and everyone else involved.

Deane: (12:00)
Brett, I read your book years ago. How long's it been since you published your book?

Brett: (12:05)
I want to say four or five years.

Deane: (12:08)
Really enjoyed it.

Brett: (12:10)

Deane: (12:10)
But the title, I've always wanted to hear the story behind it. The title of your book, it's not a dry business-like title. It is entitled Project Management for Humans. Now, there has to be a story behind that title. Tell me exactly why you called it Project Management for Humans.

Brett: (12:27)
So, early in my days of wanting to put myself out there and speak about project management, I created a talk for South by Southwest. And part of that process, as you probably know, is coming up with a catchy title that people will like. So, that's part of it, right? But at the root of it, I feel like project management can be seen as so cold and so mechanical in a way that it's really not helpful, because project management to me is all about people. And at the same time, so as a PM, you're working with people. You're dealing with very human issues, but it always comes back to process and tools. And to me, any monkey can learn process and tools. When you dig in on the people and the problems that people present to you on projects, then you're really managing projects.

Brett: (13:26)
I think the other side of that is just part of what we do in everyday life from a young age through to death is managing projects, like managing personal things. Think about your day-to-day. Planning a vacation, planning your time off, planning a move. There are things that we do in life, like making dinner, timing dinner. There are things like that that we just do as humans that is project management that I think what I try to do in the book is present some really personal stories and then draw back in the principles of project management. So, hopefully that's my best answer, but that's my answer.

Deane: (14:14)
That's interesting what you said about the nature of projects, because back in 2003, right after Basecamp came out, the guys from 37Signals at the time did a series of workshops called The Building of Basecamp. And my business partner at the time and I went to the very first one and they were talking about how they had been shocked about how people were using Basecamp. And they said Basecamp gets used a lot to plan weddings. And I got to thinking about it and I got to thinking, "Well, yeah, that's a project." We always think about projects in terms of business. Planning a vacation or something is a project. But something else struck me when I was talking to them, is the ethos behind Basecamp, was the idea of increasing communication. They say that the number one problem they see in projects is that team members just aren't communicating. Do you have any comments on that? I mean, what, 19 years down the road, do you want to reject or endorse that statement?

Brett: (15:09)
Not currently endorsing Basecamp, but for other reasons. That said, I think project management is 95% communications. Like I said before, anyone can learn process and tools, right? If you're not a good communicator and you don't put the time into those interactions to understand motivation, or even just simply to communicate impacts on things, I think you're going to have a hard time managing any project. If you can't manage stakeholders, if you can't get information out of teams, if you can't motivate people, projects aren't necessarily going to happen the way that you plan them.

Deane: (15:49)
I think anybody who's been following along on this podcast series is coming to think that we're not talking about digital projects, but that we're talking about human psychology, right? Every single conversation seems to come back to the fact that humans are flawed and a huge part of a successful project is managing those flaws and accounting for them and mitigating them.

Brett: (16:10)
Yeah. I would definitely agree with that. I think there's a lot of due diligence to be done in ramping up on a project or even pre-planning on a project just to understand the factors that could impact the thing that you're planning. And those factors generally tend to be the people. If not the people, then it's the constraints that come along with the project that come from the scope, the estimate or the deadline, right?

Brett: (16:41)
But from what I've seen, the things that make my projects go off track is a miscommunication in some way or an issue that a person presents, whether that issue is, "Hey, I'm going to miss a deadline because of whatever thing that happened," or, "Hey, we're going to miss the final deadline on the project because the client hasn't gotten back to us in a week and a half." That stuff all comes back to good communication. You can solve those challenges if you've got a good communication plan in place, in terms of knowing when things are going to happen or receiving updates in a timely way. Again, it all comes back to people and being good at staying in touch with one another.

Deane: (17:31)
When I worked in services, and I worked in services for 14 years, there's a dark humor joke that says, "This job would be great if not for the customers." And I always feel like at Blend, we had a great team of very, very skilled people and we had a great process, but the customer is the one thing we could never... They were the wild card, right? They were always the variable. Any advice for managing the customer? I wrote in my first book, "The worst thing you can do is you be that customer that is late on everything, but when they deliver something, suddenly wants you to drop everything and get back on it." And that was my experience of the worst thing you could have in a customer. I mean, any great advice for managing customers, managing the person who does not report to you?

Brett: (18:19)
Yeah. I mean, I think there are a few things here. I think, first of all, nobody's really trained to be a customer. There's no class out there that's like, "How can I be a good client?", right? So, it's up to you as a PM or account manager to set the right expectations about how you'll work together. I think part of that is setting an expectation that projects require partnership. And if you're not ready for some level of partnership to get this project done, then maybe I'm not the right partner for you. Maybe this team's not the right partner for you, or maybe you need to make more time in your schedule to be available. And then I think around that, it's like coming up with a plan being very clear in that plan and making sure that your client understands when they'll be engaged in the project and how, and what's expected of them.

Brett: (19:08)
I think regular status reports and keeping them informed on what's happening and engaged on what's coming is another thing that is a good thing to set an expectation on just because it's really easy for someone to be checked out. I mean, hey, if you're working at an agency and you're a PM and your client is, let's say, part of like a Fortune 500 company, there's a good chance that that person has several other projects just like yours happening in different facets of their job. And their people are competing for their time all the time. So, come up with a routine that works for you and for that client that allows some level of checking in, sharing information, and making sure that they're aware of when and how they're going to be needed.

Brett: (19:56)
I think that level of training... And listen, it's not like, "This is the way that I do it. This is what we're going to do." I think it's a discussion and making sure that your practices somehow work with their workdays or you're able to adapt your communications or your communication style to them. I think that's a part of client services, but having some structure to fall back on that helps them in some way to get through the project without you literally hand holding them through it, I think can be really helpful.

Deane: (20:29)
So, you started off your answer with a momentous statement, and I would like everybody to take note. January 18th, 2022 is when Brett proposed that the three of us write a book on how to be a good customer.

Brett: (20:41)
Yeah, let's do it.

Deane: (20:43)
That's it. The three of us are going to write the book on how to be a good customer. It's funny you say that, because after I wrote my first book, my second book, I did think... I was deep into a services firm at the time and I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if people had a very small book saying 'These are all the things that will make your service provider hate you'?"

Brett: (20:59)
Yeah. The thing is anyone who's really truly a bad customer or client is never going to read that book.

Corey: (21:05)
They don't care.

Deane: (21:06)
We need to reframe it. We need to reframe it to "How to be a terrible client."

Brett: (21:11)
Yeah. I think Mike Monteiro wrote that book.

Deane: (21:14)
Yeah. I think he did actually.

Corey: (21:16)
Did he really? You're my favorite client [crosstalk 00:21:18]?

Brett: (21:18)
Your my favorite client. Yeah.

Deane: (21:20)
Well, there you go. Great minds think alike.

Brett: (21:21)
[crosstalk 00:21:21]. Always ahead of us.

Corey: (21:25)
We talked last episode out with Patrice Embry and how this relates specifically when it comes to creating a project team and even more if you're part of an internal team. We as consultants often... We're in a space where we have a little bit more control over the potential project team. We are a little bit more able to manage gaps in knowledge or gaps in skill. But if you are part of an internal team, you are given the skillsets that you're given. How do you, I guess, mitigate this? How do you create a plan that works with maybe a varying amount of different skills, a varying amount of experience, and sometimes unknowns as to how a person may be able to get their work done in a specific amount of time.

Brett: (22:16)
Yeah, I think... It's a challenge, right? Because again, people are people. You're not dealing with blocks. You're not playing a game of Tetris that just you fill a line and it's like, "Yeah, here's my team." No, it's not how it works. Everyone's comes in a different shape and size and different expertise and background. I think it's something that you really need to identify before you create a plan. I think before you even open up your planning tool, I think you should consider who the project team is and what their expertise is, and look at your scope and your estimate at the same time. So, like I've worked on projects where the project was already estimated and it feels like this project's estimated for somebody who really knows their stuff, like a more senior level person to do the work, but then I get assigned the junior person to my team.

Brett: (23:08)
So generally, I know that junior person's going to need more time to do the work and possibly even more oversight and check-ins. And all of that is going to impact the way that I plan my project and the way that we deliver things and the process that we're going to outline, and even the time that we would devote to some tasks. So I think it's really important, like I said before, to do your due diligence before you even start thinking about the plan itself. I always tell project managers to get to know their projects. And by that, I mean understand the goals and the expectations of the project, the constraints that are presented in the scope as it relates to the budget and the timeline, and then get to know the people. That's just as important. Get to know the people, because the people are the ones who are going to break the expectations if you don't set or manage them well.

Brett: (24:01)
So, I think there's a lot of power in knowing how a team works, what their expertise is. Maybe even what their interests are and how that can work within the project that you're about to kick off. And then also knowing just like, how do these folks like to work as individuals and what does that look like in terms of the ecosystem of your team? I think in addition to that, the flip side of knowing your team is also knowing your clients or knowing the people that... Your stakeholders, I guess. How much experience do they have with projects like yours? In the digital space? If you're creating a website, like have they ever been through a process like that? How did it go? Dig in on that kind of stuff.

Brett: (24:49)
Also knowing how involved they can be in the project or how much time they have to partner with you. But I think even more importantly, if there's a large stakeholder team behind the one person you might be talking to, do they need to be considered in that process? What do you need to do in order to manage a large group of people? To make sure that expectations are set and that everyone shows up to the meetings that you need to have and the presentations you're having? How you're collecting feedback? There's a lot that can go into that, that all really does impact the plan. So it's really doing as much research and understanding about the project itself and the people involved so that you can come up with a plan that feels as realistic as possible. I don't think you're ever going to nail a plan the first time and then it never changes, and I think that's okay.

Corey: (25:45)
When it comes to looking back at a plan, I find the idea of a postmortem or retrospective... I think that process is really important and I love being able to go back and review what worked and what didn't work. First of all, do you call them postmortem or do you call them retrospective? Some people have opinions.

Brett: (26:04)
Oh, people have so many opinions. I don't care. I call it a postmortem and anytime I do call it that somebody complains about it, so I say, "Fine, it's a retrospective."

Deane: (26:13)

Brett: (26:14)
Call it whatever you want, just make sure you're doing it please. That's what I say.

Corey: (26:19)
This is maybe a weird question, but what's the most important thing that you can pull out of a retrospective? What's the thing you don't want to miss?

Brett: (26:28)
To me a postmortem... There are a couple benefits, right? It's a good way to celebrate wins. I think people forget about that. A lot of times people are like, "Let's get in a room and talk about what went wrong", or, "Let's start pointing fingers." That's the wrong way to handle it in my opinion. I think the conversations that you have in those meetings should always point to a solution. So, a lot of people get bogged down in that negativity and rather than accepting that a thing happened and discussing a way to avoid it in the future, they'll just keep talking about the problem, right?

Brett: (27:03)
So, I think it's best to really have the conversation for part of it, maybe like 20% is, "This is what happened.", and the rest of the conversation is guiding the team to a solution or a next step. And to capture that as an action item, with an assignment, for someone to follow up on it. I think if you're not getting that out of a postmortem, you're basically just having a bitching session, and that's not motivating anyone to do anything in the future. It's not going to fix your process. It's not going to get anyone to work smarter. So, it's really that action item.

Corey: (27:39)
Sure. Are there people who are often missing that you wish were a part of those retrospectives?

Brett: (27:45)
The PM. Yeah. I think in so many teams that I've worked with, I see that there's a retrospective that is run by the PM and the PM is experiencing the project just like anyone else in the team. So I always say pull a knot up an outside project manager or leadership within the company to facilitate that conversation so everyone has an equal voice.

Corey: (28:07)
Right. That's smart.

Deane: (28:09)
All right. Let me close out with a bizarre question. Let's say my goal is to be the worst project manager in the world, what advice are you going to give me to make me the worst project manager in the world? What do I consistently need to do to be the worst PM ever?

Brett: (28:28)

Deane: (28:29)
Everybody, I'm watching Brett on video and he's just gone into wicked thoughtful mode.

Brett: (28:34)
There are so many things.

Deane: (28:35)
He is pondering hard.

Brett: (28:35)
What is the absolute worst?

Deane: (28:40)
I can almost see the gears turning in his head, right?

Brett: (28:42)
Yeah, absolutely. And there's like smoke coming out of my ears. I'm struggling here. I think it's either not having some semblance of a plan, like knowing big picture, how all of these things fit together and how we can actually get from point A to point B. I think it's that. But then I also think it could be being passive and not really actively communicating with people. Not asking for updates, not pushing information out. I think that's just as dangerous.

Deane: (29:13)
This is going to sound incredibly obvious, but a project manager can be a pushover, right? There's an opportunity for people to bully the project manager, and the best project managers I have known are project managers who felt confident to tell me to shut my damn mouth.

Brett: (29:35)
Yeah. I think-

Deane: (29:35)
Which was everybody, for the record.

Brett: (29:38)
I mean, I think a good project manager has a balance of forcefulness and empathy. The way that I put it in my book, I think is like, they're lovable, hardass, right? Like they're the person that you like and you trust and you respect them, but at the same time, they're going to give you the straight up details. They're going to tell you how it needs to be because they're looking out for the project and its goals, but they also are looking out for you.

Deane: (30:04)
That's awesome. So, my goal to become the world's worst project manager, you'll have to evaluate me sometime down the road. Let me know how I'm doing.

Brett: (30:10)

Corey: (30:11)
I look forward to it, Deane. Two things. Number one, is that a copy of The Anniversary's Designing a Nervous Breakdown behind you?

Brett: (30:19)
It is.

Corey: (30:20)
That's a record, Deane.

Deane: (30:21)
Okay, and this is the point where Corey and Brett devolve into geeky, inside baseball, music conversations. They're going to talk about bands that literally you have not heard of and no one has heard of.

Corey: (30:33)
Right. Well, the other side of it, it's U2 and you've heard of U2, right?

Brett: (30:36)
Yeah. You've heard of U2.

Deane: (30:37)
I have heard of U2, yes.

Corey: (30:39)
Brett, out of that back there, what's the record that you're most proud to have?

Brett: (30:45)
Oh my gosh. It is a Built to Spill live record. I forget what the title of it. I think it might just be called "Live".

Corey: (30:56)
I think it's just called "Live". Yeah.

Brett: (30:56)
Yeah. It's amazing. Love it [crosstalk 00:30:58].

Deane: (30:58)
Considering that I would classify you two as alternative, I can already tell that I have no place in this conversation.

Corey: (31:04)
Deane, you should listen to Built to Spill's Live album. It's great. They only really play like five of their own songs and then there's a 20 minute long version of Neil Young's Cortez the Killer.

Brett: (31:12)
Cortez the Killer. It's so good.

Corey: (31:14)
It's absolutely amazing.

Deane: (31:16)
I honestly think you two have made this entire conversation up and none of this actually exists.

Brett: (31:20)
Oh, all right. There are Taylor Swift records in that cabinet behind me, so I'm no music snob.

Corey: (31:26)
There you go.

Deane: (31:28)
Not even joking, I adore Taylor Swift.

Brett: (31:31)
As you should.

Deane: (31:31)
I am a huge Swiftie. For Father's Day, my daughters got me a shirt that said, "If I die, tell Taylor Swift I love her".

Corey: (31:41)
Aw. How could we arrange that?

Deane: (31:41)
I think we should wrap on that.

Brett: (31:43)
Love it.

Corey: (31:44)
Brett, what can we promote for you? What do you want to talk about outside of your book, which is still in print? It hasn't been that long.

Brett: (31:50)
Oh yeah, it's in print. They're using it in schools and stuff. It's very cool. I'm still very excited about that book. It's been around for a while, but I get people contacting me about it. I think for me, what I'm doing now, I'm consulting with teams on all things project management. From establishing roles and responsibilities for PM zone teams to diagnosing and fixing process issues with teams. Establishing stronger communications, finding the right tools for teams. That's what I'm doing in my consulting. I also do a lot of coaching. So, I do team coaching as well as just individual project management coaching to build people up. Make them better PMs, make them more confident, provide some skills. Yeah. That's pretty much what I'm doing. There's more info on that on my website at brettharned.com, if I can be a little promotional.

Corey: (32:42)
That's perfect. That's what this time's for. This is the plug [crosstalk 00:32:45].

Brett: (32:44)
Cool. Thank you.

Corey: (32:45)
You get to plug whatever you want.

Brett: (32:45)
Appreciate that.

Corey: (32:46)
What's your connection to the Bureau of Digital.

Brett: (32:49)
So, I was a part of the team that created the Bureau of Digital. When I was working at Happy Cog, we started doing conferences and I actually founded the Digital PM Summit, which is now going into its 10th year, which is amazing. And I still program that and host it every year.

Corey: (33:12)

Deane: (33:13)
We sent several of the Blend PMs to the Digital PM Summit [crosstalk 00:33:17] .

Brett: (33:17)

Corey: (33:17)

Brett: (33:17)

Corey: (33:17)
Yep. We're looking at it this year. Awesome. Well, Brett, I appreciate you being on the podcast. Thanks so much.

Brett: (33:23)
Thanks for having me.

Deane: (33:24)
Thanks Brett.

Brett: (33:24)
Bye bye.

Deane: (33:25)
Take care.

Corey: (33:32)
All right, Deane. We're back. It was great talking to Brett.

Deane: (33:35)
Yeah, it was. He's great. And just, I will repeat his plug for his book, which is five years old, but absolutely evergreen. It's on the bookshelf somewhere behind me. But I just do want to point out, before the interview, I was talking about how you want to be as laid back as you can, but no more and then what did he call it? He had a snazzy little term for it, like a nice jerk or something. I don't remember what it is.

Corey: (33:58)
Yeah. Lovable hardass or something like that.

Deane: (34:01)
Yes. Lovable hardass. Is that what you want to be?

Corey: (34:02)
I don't it was that but it was close.

Deane: (34:04)
You want to be as lovable as possible, but no more, right? There has to be a rigidity behind that. But this all goes back to the common theme through all of these episodes is, it's about social engineering and human psychology. And I think we were talking to Patrice about this last episode, that... Like we talk about NFL coaches and how Tom Brady credits Bill Belichick for making him a better football player. I think the same is true of a project manager. I mean, if you're a lovable hardass, you can elevate the performance of your team, elevate the performance of all the members, and I think to some extent, help... I mean, cultivate skill sets and develop people as humans. I think a great project manager can do some amazing things, both on a professional and personal level.

Corey: (34:51)
Absolutely. They're great. We love project managers.

Deane: (34:54)
I'm sad that we didn't work my colonoscopy into the broad conversation.

Corey: (34:59)
Well, there's always future episodes, Deane.

Deane: (35:02)
We'll bring it up next time.

Corey: (35:03)
That's our show. Thanks to our guest, Brett Harned, author of Project Management for Humans. He is currently again, working as a independent project manager and consultant, and also he is a big part of the Digital PM Summit, so check that out. And you can reach him a brettharned.com. The Web Project Guide is a product of Blend Interactive, which is a web strategy design and development firm dedicated to making great things for the web. This is one of those things. The Web Project Guide is also a book that Deane and I wrote. You can order it a webproject.guide, or you can order it internationally through Amazon to get some reasonable shipping rates there. It's a beautiful book, and if you're not a book person though, you can always just read the full text online for free. This is episode four of the Web Project Guide, which also corresponds with chapter four of the book, Create a Project Plan. Visit web project.guide/project-plan, which is not as simple as a URL as the last ones were, but project hyphen plan and catch even more resources on this topic.

Corey: (36:05)
If you like this topic, we suggest checking out last month's episode with Patrice Embry, as we mentioned before, which is about creating a project team. We do this every month, so like and subscribe, or just subscribe. I guess there's no liking on podcasts, but whatever it is. Whatever it is you do in your pod catcher, just do it.

Deane: (36:24)
Mash that bell icon and notifications.

Corey: (36:27)
Do all of those things and also make sure you rate us. We want you to be honest, but only if you're honesty lends to a five star review. And with that, we'll be back next month to talk user research. That's all from us until then. Go do amazing things.

Deane: (36:39)
Good luck.