The 5S for the Office User’s Guide

The 5S for the Office User’s Guide by Don Tapping

If you can’t do 5S then forget all the rest!5s-office-guide

This book is great. It’s practical, it’s easy to read and it’s full of actionable advice. I can recommend it especially given the lack of good books in the service / office environment.

We did 5S quite regularly in our office even before I was a QM. It just felt freeing and people felt good after they threw out a few trash cans of old paper.

Lean eliminates waste or non value-added activities. Waste is defined through the eyes of the customer (i.e., client, patient, other process owner, etc.).

That’s one of the basic idea of lean. Erase non value-added activities. These are basically all activities “that customers are not willing to pay for”.

Non value-added activities are usually symptoms of a problem within a process.

The idea of creating value for the users ‘at all cost’ is pretty revolutionary and challenges the status-quo. You can defend something as ‘we always did it like that’ if the customer isn’t willing to pay for that. It’s a customer-driven environment and it’s cultural. Therefore it isn’t easy to do lean management well.

Now that we can think about customer value, we can think about waste which is everything that doesn’t add value. These are the different kinds of waste:

  • Unnecessary Services (or overproduction of those services)
  • Mistakes (or defects)
  • Delays
  • Unnecessary Motion
  • Overprocessing
  • Excess Inventory
  • Excess Transport
  • People Utilization

Most organizations find that 5% to 20% of the work or service provided is value-added.

If you start measuring processes you quickly learn how much time is actually spent on value-added activities. Here are some examples:

Examples: Excessive copies of emails, Duplicate reports, Ineffective meetings, Irrelevant data to customers.

Examples: Data entry error, Missing information, Wrong information, Scheduling issue, Customer returns.

Examples: Searching for data – electronic or paperbase, Ineffective email distribution lists, Scheduling issue.

Examples: Unnecessary data collection, Redundant paperwork, Ineffective meetings and reports.

Where do we start?

  1. How can we start to communicate about these wastes throughout the organization?
  2. What are some “low-hanging fruit?”
  3. What can be done immediately to improve a process and reduce costs with minimal cost to the organization?”

One of the most important success factors will be the commitment of the management. Without their commitment it won’t work. They will provide financial resources, time for training and participation, and consequence if the employees won’t go the new way.


There’s a lot written about 5S and I will just take quotes out of the book:

  • The essence of Sort is found in the saying, “When in doubt, move it out.”
  • The essence of Set-In-Order is found in the saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
  • Shine involves cleaning everything, keeping everything clean, and using cleaning as a way to ensure that the areas are maintained as they should be.
  • Standardize involves creating guidelines for keeping the area organized, orderly, clean, and making the standards visual and obvious.
  • Sustain involves education and communication to ensure that everyone uses the applicable standards.

And that’s basically it. It’s easy but incredible powerful. And I agree with the leading quote. If you can’t do 5S don’t try to do more complicated QM.

I won’t go into the PM part of introducing 5S but it’s discussed in the book. Here are some of the tips for doing 5S.

Some tips

  • Create legends for labels that are in common areas.
  • Areas that are clean and well-lit allow for more satisfied customers as well as employees.
  • Participation in development of standards is the best training.
  • Locate visual controls at point-of use.
  • Perform management “walk-abouts.”

It boils down to: Make it easy and accessible.

The Art of Client Service

The Art of Client Service by Robert Solomon

art-of-client-serviceAnother beautiful book. It’s basically ‘How to talk to your client’. The author worked in the advertising industry and explains important bits of client service. If you work in the advertising industry in a customer facing position, e.g. account manager this book is perfect.

In other words, patients don’t file lawsuits because they’ve been harmed by shoddy medical care. Patients file lawsuits because they’ve been harmed by shoddy medical care and something else happens to them.

I found that a great example. He obviously talk about medical errors and that not all errors result into a lawsuit. The difference is that the patient forgave the doctor for making in error.

It’s no surprise that most agency people figure that if they do great work, everything else will take care of itself, including the relationships they build with clients.

There’s just one problem with this assumption: it’s wrong.

I used to think that great work would lead to a great relationship. Now I think the opposite: a great relationship leads to great work.

Great work entails risk. Most clients do not want to take risks; they prefer a safe retreat into the world of the merely good or, worse, the dismissively average. Still, if they are going to take that risk, they are much more likely to do so with agency people they trust. And trust is the very foundation of a great relationship. And that’s why I say a great relationship leads to great work.


you should pay attention not just to your clients’ company goals, but also to their personal goals.

This is one of the neat tricks. Or like Kent Beck said it: ‘Your method doesn’t work if it doesn’t appeal to human short-term thinking’.

Generally, the right number of concepts to present is three.

I heard that over and over again. Normally, there are either two good concepts and one average one. Or two average ones and one good one. But I think there should be at least two ideas otherwise there is not informed tradeoff.

You and your colleagues won’t always agree. You will argue; this often is part of arriving at the right solution.

It’s fine to fight about the work in private, but once you’ve agreed on what to present to the client, get on the bus. When you are in front of the client, never throw the work, or your colleagues, under the bus.


“The agency is going to work incredibly hard on this, but we’re going to ask you to work hard with us. We need you to be actively involved. We can’t do great work for you unless you help us.”

Then I ask the clients to outline what they expect from the agency and how they would like to work.


While it takes emotional commitment to make creative work, it takes emotional detachment to make it better.

One thing said about creative types is that the difference between the good and great is accepting feedback. You need to detach yourself so much that you can accept critique. I’ve heard creatives defending their work after user tests. It doesn’t matter what you thought. If you want to make art, go to an art school. If you want to make ads you have to accept what people like.

Rehearsal helps you discover holes in your argument. It helps you anticipate the questions and concerns the client might raise. It polishes your delivery. It allows you to work out the hand-offs among the team members. It gives everyone in the group an opportunity to help strengthen each member’s part. It can build your confidence.

That’s something we did a lot. I loved to critique people’s arguments and ask them uncomfortable questions. Most hated it at the start but after around 30 minutes the liked it. And they started to love it after they could confidently answer a client’s hard question.

You are not only presenting work, you are representing the agency. Every presentation offers an opportunity to validate the client’s confidence in the agency, or conversely, to undermine it.


Well before you make a presentation, check it for any claims it makes. If there’s an opinion that won’t stand up to a client’s challenge, make sure you go back and build a case for it. If you find you can’t build a case for that opinion, you’re better off keeping it to yourself.


If you’re worried about getting the credit, I suggest you think about another line of work. As an account exec, your job is to give the credit—to your clients, to your colleagues—not to take it. Often, the only people who truly appreciate what you do are other account people.


Account work is fieldwork. You need to visit your clients regularly, no matter if they are on the next street or in the next time zone. Phone calls and e-mails don’t replace face time.

Also culture, appreciation, etc. It shows that you actually care.

Don’t wait for trouble before you get off your butt. Spend time with clients when things are going well. Most clients have little patience for account people who only show up when something goes wrong. If that’s the only time you see your client, then you won’t have forged the relationship you need in order to fix the problem you’re there to address.


“I love your work; the agency is very creative. But you guys are just too hard to deal with; everything is a fight. If I have to choose, I’ll take an agency a little less talented but a whole lot easier to work with.”


When a client makes a request, let alone a demand, your first, and understandable, instinct is to say yes. The more senior the client, the more urgent the need, the more strident the tone, the more you want to comply on the spot. Don’t do it.

Remember: Lead your client.

Even with seemingly simple requests, a unilateral yes is not the right answer. It does a terrible disservice to everyone—your colleagues, yourself, and most of all, your client.


“Here’s what we can do; it’s not a perfect solution, but does it address your need?”


“Give us the problem, not the solution. Ask the question; don’t give us the answer. Let us solve the problem. That’s what you hired us for. We want to help you get to the right place.”

Root cause analysis.

I made a commitment to myself that I would always advise clients up front about the cost and timing implications of their decisions, so they could make fully informed decisions.

Also sometimes called Request for Change. It’s basically a feedback about a client’s option. If he wants X then you reply ‘Sure, we can do X and it will cost Y and put the deadline to Z’.

Here in the words of the author:

When a client calls with a change or a request, it can make you feel a little uncomfortable to say, “Let me figure out what the change will cost and if it will have an impact on the schedule, then get right back to you.” But you owe it to your clients, and to your agency, to do exactly that. By doing so, you avoid the perils of “scope creep,” when a project grows beyond what initially was planned. And you avoid any after-the-fact surprises that result in painful consequences, ranging from a loss of money, to a loss of trust, to a lost account.

When something goes awry, get to your client with a full explanation of what happened and why. Whenever possible, be prepared to outline one or more ways to address the problem. Move quickly; you want to deliver the bad news to the clients. You don’t want them to hear it from another source.


The lesson? Do not assume anything, and never, ever be as glib or as cavalier as I was about money. Check and recheck your claims, then check them again. Above all, remember your own advice. And by God, follow it.

I said it. I won’t stop repeating it.

Managing The Professional Service Firm

Managing The Professional Service Firm by David H. Maister

manging-the-psf-coverThis book is a gem. I have over 430 highlighted passages in this book. I remember reading it and I was in awe. Probably the one book if you want to structure, improve or build a professional service firm.

Again, most of my comments will be related to the work I did in the advertising industry.

most professional services have a strong component of face-to-face interaction with the client. This implies that definitions of quality and service take on special meanings and must be managed carefully, and that very special skills are required of top performers.

In contrast to production companies who can control quality without customer interaction. This is actually a bigger difference than you may think. The variance is bigger thanks to customer interaction, i.e. less standardization.

Both of these characteristics (customization and client contact) demand that the firm attract (and retain) highly skilled individuals. Because of this, the professional service firm is the ultimate embodiment of that familiar phrase “our assets are our people.”

This goes into the same direction. Production companies have a lot of value besides their people: processes, machines, inventory. This all is neglectable small for PSF (professional service firms). Even if you have a superior process it can easily be copied and more likely the difference isn’t that big.

One of the most interesting discoveries in my consulting work has been the fact that (apparently) every professional service firm in the world has the same mission statement, regardless of the firm’s size, specific profession, or country of operation.

To deliver outstanding client service; to provide fulfilling careers and professional satisfaction for our people; and to achieve financial success so that we can reward ourselves and grow.


Consider three kinds of client work: Brains, Grey Hair, and Procedure projects.

Brains is new solutions to new problems. It’s basically: We’re smart, we can solve any problem. Many one-off projects, lots of learning.

Grey Hair are customized solutions to old problems. The client buys experience.

Procedure projects are old solutions to old problems. It’s basically: We’re doing this all day we know what we do and do it fast.

You can easily see how the personnel differs in each case. Procedure projects can easily be done be juniors and may give a higher leverage.

The professional service firm may be viewed as the modern embodiment of the medieval craftsman’s shop, with its apprentices, journeymen, and master craftsmen.


By leveraging its high-cost seniors with low-cost juniors, the professional firm can lower its effective hourly rate and thus reduce its cost to clients while simultaneously generating additional profit for the partners.


The firm thus makes its most money by “leading the market”: being able to sell as a fully customized service (at a fully customized price) what increasingly becomes a service with reproducible, standardized elements.

If you watch any industry with PSF closely you can see this over and over again. E.g. if you work in IT you probably saw this with Agile and Scrum.

In any professional service there are three key benefits that clients seek: expertise, experience, and efficiency.

However, accommodating the varying needs of these different types of clients within a single practice group is an almost impossible task.

Also very important and not that seldom neglected. You can’t really operate on two levels or even three. It comes down to specialization in the end. Specialize and win.

True to the professions’ traditional self-image of being elite practitioners, the staffing requirements of this “expertise-based” practice would be such that the firm would need to seek out and attract only the top percentile graduates from the best schools, in order to generate top-notch apprentices who could meet the quality needs of the frontier practice. Training would best be accomplished through an informal apprenticeship system and, since standards would be high, a rigorous up-or-out promotion system would ensure that the firm retained only the best and the brightest.

The firm would make its profits through high billing rates or some form of value billing, justifiable and sustainable because of the criticality, complexity, and risk in the client engagement.

An example for one way to manage a PSF. The books presents each of these different businesses in-depth but I won’t go into detail. Read the book – it’s worth it.

In my experience, many low-margin practices are more profitable, on a profit-per-partner basis, than higher margin practices with low leverage because of the effective use of leverage.

This is also something you see. Low cost, high efficiency practices can apply more leverage and scale easier. The problem solving in such PSF switches from the domain of practice (e.g. software development, accounting or law) to the domain of efficiency.

Only increased fee levels or leverage move the firm forward. All else is hygiene. It is the nature of the work brought in, not just its volume, that contributes to profit health.

Also important. It often get’s into this line of thinking:

Many firms are revenue driven, or “top-line” oriented, taking the view that “any new business is good business.” This is patently false.

I’ve seen companies which had very good revenue but didn’t exist one year later because their margin wasn’t existent.

Professional firms do not sell time (although they often bill that way). Rather, their stock-in-trade is skill. Anything that compromises the rate of skill building (which systemic underdelegation does) hurts the firm.

Also something which isn’t often done right. Generally you want to grow your replacement as soon as possible. Because there are two cases in which your replacement is necessary. a) If the work-load is to high and b) If you are promoted or switch to an other position.

Also there is an other side-effect:

If underdelegation exists, that is, if juniors are being given additional responsibilities less rapidly than they are capable of handling with good training and supervision, the result will be poor morale and motivation.

the lack of challenging (“growing”) work will be the single biggest contributor to turnover/retention problems.

And even more seniors often complain that they don’t have enough time to delegate or mentor their employees:

In firm after firm, I encounter senior professionals who know the importance of client service, business development, supervision and coaching, methodology-building, and personal development. In all of these cases, however, they report that they are not doing as much as they would like because they are “too busy”—and they are.

My observation of professional firms in general is that they tend to overinvest their nonbillable practice development time in categories mentioned first on my list (broadcasting and courting) and, as a rule, underinvest in those activities lower on my list (superpleasing, nurturing, and listening).

It seems that the research which shows that acquiring new clients is way higher than getting business from existing clients still isn’t believed.

Listening—soliciting clients’ evaluation of current services and getting them to describe their unfilled needs—has two interrelated purposes: (a) improving the competitiveness of current services and (b) identifying opportunities to develop new services.


As the Japanese manufacturers say, a “defect is a treasure.” In other words, by eagerly seeking out your “defects” and studying them carefully to identify why and how that performance failure occurred, you get the opportunity to improve.


“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”—

Remember the definition of trust: competence + carefulness

Discuss at the earliest possible point all potential roadblocks, detours, and contingencies that may arise, and make it clear how your firm will handle them.

More generally: Don’t surprise the client – especially not with bad news. You will also notice how less problematic dealing with problems become if you are upfront.

“The most depressing day in the office is the day after we have won a new client. We all look at each other and say, ‘How on earth are we going to deliver all we promised for the budget we agreed to?’


The firm that demonstrates its trustworthiness by advising clients on how to avoid fees by doing some things themselves, or that demonstrates its integrity, either by admitting areas of weakness and recommending other professionals or by refusing work when it knows it is too busy.

I liked to call it ‘full disclosure’. Most of my coworkers thought I was insane. Two of my coworkers did the same. The clients appreciated it insanely. It’s basically the application of honesty is the best policy. Sadly, most people are afraid of it.

Improving the quality of work can be costly and hard to demonstrate. Improving the quality of service can be as cheap as instilling more responsive attitudes in professional staff, and it tends to be infinitely more visible to clients.


It cannot be stressed enough that achieving excellence in client service is not an “educational” issue (i.e., enlightening staff and training them). Almost all client service training programs, taken by themselves, fail to be implemented in the press of daily business. Most firm personnel, if asked, could easily describe most of the activities that would represent good service. We must ask why they don’t already do these things.


The bad news about achieving excellence in client service is that it is made up of hundreds of little, trivial actions, not a few grand gestures.

It takes an attention to detail, an attitude, that is essential if individuals are to find the self-discipline to handle all of their client-contact activities with empathy.

Just as with a lot of practices self-discipline is the key. Most people know what they have to do but the lack of self-discipline often undermines that. And all that results in inferior service.

By measuring client satisfaction on every assignment, and doing so in a way that can be monitored, it commits the members of the firm to inescapable implementation of good service.

This is something I learned in my quality manager position. Measurement has the highest payoff. When employees noticed how slow they are, or how many errors they made, or how unsatisfied their clients were, they suddenly improved that metric. They were aware of those measurements. If the management only highlights revenue they will focus on revenue. It starts with management & measurement.

In many firms, there may be a need for training programs in client-contact skills. These should include training in classic client situations such as “How do you tell a client he is wrong?” and “What do you do if the client doesn’t like your ideas?” Accumulated wisdom in the firm on these and other client contact situations should be built into training programs so the firm disseminates its best expertise quickly.


If all time spent on existing clients must be accounted for, then things done in the name of pursuing more business from existing clients often show up in the accounts as extra costs (and hence lower profitability) on the existing engagement. As a consequence, the desirable marketing activities are not done.


Unless their skills are truly unique, unmatched by any competitor, professionals are never hired because of their technical capabilities.

I am no longer asking “Can you do it?” but rather “Do I want to work with you?” I am no longer interested in the institutional characteristics of your firm, but am now trying to form a judgment about you.

What all this reveals is that, among the set of qualified candidates, I am looking for the one I can trust. The act of hiring a professional is, by very definition, an act of faith. I must, inevitably, believe a promise.

There isn’t much 100% rational judgement if any at all. The decision is emotional but later rationalized by facts. That is, you have to be good enough but that’s all. The rest is social skills and chemistry.

Give me an education. Tell me about alternate ways the common problems of my industry might be dealt with. Help me understand the advantages and disadvantages of some of the things I have been reading about. Ask me how I am doing things now, and use that as an opportunity to help me understand some options I may have for doing things differently. Tell me something I didn’t know.

Also something which is quite impressive if you ask valuable questions your competitors don’t ask.

For example, most firms should invest some of their nonbillable marketing time in:
• Writing articles
• Spending time with executives of existing clients, to understand their business better and to win follow-on assignments
• Conducting publishable proprietary research
• Organizing and delivering seminars
• Giving speeches
• Gathering market intelligence on new needs by, for example, attending client industry conferences
• Community involvement and networking

The health of your career is not dependent so much on the volume of business you do, but the type of work you do (whether or not it helps you learn, grow, and develop), and who you do it for (whether or not you are increasingly earning the trust of some key clients).

This is also a mindset. I knew people who worked 5+ years in a job and didn’t know much. People with the right mindset and 6 months of experience produced more value.

However, you can rely too much on “random” experience as a teacher. To learn well, you have to set out to learn some specific something.


I have learned that the (seemingly “low-level”) tasks of diligently reading my clients’ industry trade magazines, newsletters, trade association materials, every single month without fail, has made me a better professional in their eyes.

aka. domain-knowledge

“The trouble is that some people have five years’ experience, and other people have one year’s experience five times.”

Here’s a quote to something I said above.

In what way are you personally more valuable on the marketplace than last year? What are your plans to make yourself more valuable on the marketplace than in the past? What specific new skills do you plan to acquire or enhance in the next year? What’s your personal strategic plan for your career over, say, the next three years? What can you do to make yourself (even more) special on the market in the near future? What, precisely, is it that you want to be famous for?


Every Monday morning all professional staff, senior and junior, attend a one-hour meeting. At each session one staff member presents a case his team has worked on and describes how they handled it, what new approaches were attempted, how they dealt with client problems, and so on.

I love this idea. We had internal workshops but more on techniques and less on case studies.

Subtle misrepresentations during the recruiting process (about workloads, variety of work, extent of client contact, the degree of counseling, or any of a number of issues of concern to young professionals) may serve to bring more people (bodies?) on board, but will quickly work against the firm’s interests as new recruits discover the realities of the practice: a prime example of how to demotivate.


From these observations flow some simple rules for maintaining motivation among professionals. You must provide clear goals; give prompt feedback and reward performance quickly; treat them like winners, involving them in decision-making and seeking their opinion often; give them autonomy in their work, but hold them strictly accountable for results; be tolerant of their impatience, and provide variety in their work experiences, always keeping the next challenging goal out front.

How to deal with (young) professionals in a nutshell.

One does not motivate a professional by being the “good guy” and lessening the pressure: rather one does it by helping that individual accept the pressure as a challenge to his or her professional pride.

Yep, boredom is a bigger killer than overwhelming problems.

A manager’s time can be divided into five categories:
• Administrative and financial matters
• Doing professional (billable) work
• Personal marketing and selling
• General client relations
• Dealing and talking with senior professionals and staff


If there has been one major theme in this book, it is that the key to ensuring any professional firm’s future is wise management of its two key assets: a. Its inventory of skills, talents, knowledge, and ability b. The strength of its client relations and reputation


There is perhaps no more valuable asset that a firm has than the satisfaction of its clients.

Interactive Project Management

Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People, and Process by Nancy Lyons, Meghan Wilker

interactive-pmThat is a pretty good book. Hands-on, not much non-sense, applicable. You can also get the process presented in the book and 17 cheat sheets – completely for free. Take a look at download them: Interactive Project Management

Interactive projects are chaotic by nature, yet some sense of order must be imposed. The key is a good process, and the key that is a focus on people.


All this, which may seem labor intensive, actually saves time and energy, and improves quality, success rates, and team members’ and clients’ satisfaction.

I remember why I highlighted that bit. In my experience, people in the digital industry don’t like ‘methods’. They like to do the way they do it. Sometimes it works, other times not. Our goal was to make the experience for the customer consistent.

Documents must outline exactly what’s being produced, why it’s being produced, and how its success will be measured—anything short of this and the project will suffer.


Scope can’t be defined in the proposal

aka. How can you know what the problem is, if you don’t know what the problem is?

They’re experts in their business but don’t always understand the interactive industry or what’s being built.

Also important. They are in their industry often for 20+ years. They know what works, what their customers like, etc. It doesn’t work if they steer the wheel too much and it doesn’t work if you do. Cooperation is the key.

Don’t wait until the end to involve them; your project is better when programmers and creative professionals collaborate.

Should be standard PM 101. Involve your stakeholders early on.

Any content or design that gets in the user’s way is a waste of the client’s money. To meet users’ needs and bring them closer to the information or products they’re looking for, you have to spend time understanding them.

User involvement, usability tests, root cause analysis, etc. I won’t go into detail because I did it before – multiple times.

The team developing your work—whether in-house or an external agency—needs your knowledge and expertise. Don’t expect—or tolerate—an interactive team that disappears for a few months and comes back with something you need. Expect to give lots of input along the way.

aka. iterative development.

Done poorly, project management looks a lot like email shuffling and calendar making.

I have also seen this – it happens quite a lot and worsens the image of PM by a lot – especially if those PM try to push methodologies that the a) not understand and/or b) don’t apply correctly.

A good project manager can do the job with nothing more than a pencil and a piece of paper. Her real tools are her thinking, analyzing, communicating, and motivating.

This is also a perfect cure from ‘softwareism’. Let them do the work they do without tools for a few weeks. Soon they will realize what really matters.

The two most common elements that the project manager will react to are problems (something went wrong!) and new developments (something changed!).


Sending an email that reads, “See below” isn’t going to bring people and solutions together. Be explicit and give people the information they need up front.


Business is about relationships.


this means not making ridiculous rules that make people feel like they’re in grade school.

Especially not with creative or intelligent people. Don’t fuck with them.

In the end, if they’re doing good work and getting it done on time, does it really matter if they came in at 9:00 a.m. or 9:34 a.m.? Probably not.

Us—people are motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose.


As a project manager, actively manage meetings—the people, the topics, and the energy.

Every meeting has:

a) Participants – not everybody has to be there every time
b) An agenda – including time slots
c) A moderator

I’ll write about an other book about meetings which will cover this in a bit more detail.

Be proactive and frame the discussion so that clients understand exactly what the expectations are (“Yes, we really do need a weekly status meeting” or “No, you can’t email us 14 times a day and expect an immediate response to each one”). Also make the intentions behind the expectations clear (efficiency, cost-effectiveness, sanity); it builds trust with clients. Earn trust and manage expectations all at once? Perfect.

Quality = Expectation – Result. Ideally, you can keep the expectations a bit lower. However, you have to do that constantly otherwise the hedonic treadmill jumps in. Therefore, the best strategy (result and effort) is to keep expectations realistic.

Establishing what is expected of your team keeps everyone feeling like they’re in control of their own work.

Also important and often neglected. Always include a quality measurement to a job.

Many clients feel disempowered when it comes to interactive projects and say things like, “Well, you guys know best!” Remind them that their knowledge of their industry and their business is invaluable and their participation is critical.


Ask, don’t assume

I’m going to repeat that, over and over again. It applies to all parts of your life, btw.

As the project manager, you should want to support the people around you, and the entire internal team should want to make the clients happier than they ever imagined.

Deming said:

Quality is when the worker is proud of his work

I’m with Deming on it and say that workers want to do good work. However, the environment often doesn’t want to. Support your team members and you will deliver good results.

The most common example of scheduled communication is the status report. Make a schedule for disseminating the status report and stick to it. Also, establish what the report’s content will be and stick to that, too.

See the communication schedule from Alpha Project Managers XXX.

The emails could include what was accomplished the previous week, what is currently being worked on, and what is slated for the following week.

Who gets status emails? Everyone. Yes, everyone. Not just clients and/or decision makers. Everyone should be in the loop and on the same page. Think back to those four attributes we talked about: open, clear, collaborative, and thorough. These group emails will help keep the project working within these lines.



You don’t need to put every small thing on it but track changes in goals or in the project plan.

We all want to give clients what they want. But here’s the problem: What they want isn’t always what they need.


Being a good project manager is about giving context, not just to-dos.

Why? Why? Why?

Scope can’t be determined before Research & Planning because neither the client nor the agency truly understands what needs to be built. The findings obtained during planning and research—the scope of the project—are what make a reasonable estimate possible.


CLIENT: “Here’s what we want…” USER EXPERIENCE ARCHITECT: “Here’s what’s going to be best for the users…” CONTENT STRATEGIST: “Here are the messages and information we have to communicate…” DEVELOPERS: “Here’s the functionality that will create a successful product…” PROJECT MANAGER: “Hey guys, this is due on Friday and we’re trending a little over on budget…”


Gather your entire team in a room to review the features, the content needs, and the overall volume of work. Use the individual team members’ expertise to create the most accurate estimate of how much time it will take them to complete their own tasks.

Yup, don’t do the estimates yourself. Talk to the experts.

If the client is fixating on details that can be easily changed later, help them focus on what essentials need to be approved for the project to move forward.

A great tip.

The more realistic the stage version is, the better.

I also love this. I often see and have seen dummy content. Then some headline is longer than expected and suddenly the design breaks.

If a meeting is possible, do it. In a meeting, you can control how the stage version is unveiled, and it’s easier to read the clients’ faces for nonverbal reactions. It’s also a much easier way to gather initial feedback and answer any questions. A conference call (or webcast) can be an effective second choice if a meeting isn’t possible. And if you must send the information electronically, include your “presentation” in the body of the email.


Launch on a Wednesday after lunch

Or even stronger: Never launch on Friday.

How you celebrate is up to you and your team. Have a lunch, buy ice cream sandwiches, go to happy hour, or take a field trip. Whatever it is, it should be fun and carefree (the exact opposite of the launch day atmosphere).

Also often neglected. I think it’s part of the project to do that.

Hold a post-project team meeting

Also very important. Do a post-mortem analysis. What went good / bad? What should be done more often / less often? How could it be prevented? What are the lessions-learned?