The Event of the Year! #DC19

The annual event for everyone who works on the delivery of projects — with lots of gifs! If you haven’t been to Deliver Conference then you must!

http://deliverconf.co.uk/

Here is my round up of the 2 days I spent in Manchester at DC19 listening and learning some fantastic tips from great people in the industry of delivering projects.

I’m lucky enough to say this is the 3rd year I’ve attended the event and the 2nd year I’ve participated in the workshops. One of the top things about the event, for me, is talking with everyone and learning that we all face similar challenges, no matter where we work. It’s a great therapy session and a real confidence booster!

On the first day, I attended a workshop called: ‘Adapting Agile and Applying the Product Mindset for Better Projects’ ran by Suze Haworth.

Agenda for day 1

Suze spoke about how we can adapt product management theories and tools for project management.

3 core principles — customer first, frequent delivery, team collaboration

The key things I took away from this workshop;

Put the customer first — We try to keep our clients, team and business owners happy and we tend to let personal opinions or business motives take over the actual needs of the end user. Develop a hypothesis!

This is a very simple but effective tool. Print out your hypothesis and stick it up on the wall and refer to throughout the project to remind everyone what the end users need and refer back to it to qualify any new ideas.

At Reckless, our strategy and creative teams work hard to find out who these users are and what makes them tick. By creating an actual profile for those users, it helps us understand a bit more and makes it more real and relatable.

Create an early feedback loop — As we all know, communication is key. However, sometimes we don’t talk as often as we ought to, depending on the situation, team or project we are working on.

Suze suggested, and reminded us, that a good habit to adopt is feeding back as soon as something happens whether it’s good, bad or ugly. Give your feedback as soon as possible and don’t let the moment pass by or let it get the better of you.

Define a problem statement

Problem statement template

Establish a problem statement at the beginning of the project. This is where you ought to spend a good chunk of time trying to understand what the problems are before trying to come up with the solution.

In the workshop, we sat on round tables of 5–7 people. Suze handed out scenarios for us to try producing a problem statement in our groups. It was definitely easier said than done, but we did get to use post-it notes and a whiteboard to help us! Below is a photo of our ‘workings’.

Team workings

We found it was hard to focus on what the problems were without coming up with ways we could solve them and the tools we could use. I can understand why this is a great exercise to do at the beginning of the project before rushing into finding the solution.

I won! —

Prizes!

I’m chuffed to be the winner of this book and pen. This was something I physically ‘took away’ from the workshop and I won it by offering up what I had written in my retrospective to stop, start & continue.

It goes to show how you can benefit from being collaborative and giving up information freely.

The second day was held at The Comedy Store, and was crammed with people sharing their tips & experiences on stage.

Stephen Thomas — Zen and the art of PM

As most of you will be in the profession of helping to deliver projects, you will know that, at times, the job can be somewhat stressful.

Stephen provided an interesting fact taken from HSE which states that PMs are under the category of ‘Professionals’ and, as you can see below, that’s a large portion of the graph!

I’ve definitely felt the stresses caused by trying to think of everything and feeling as though I couldn’t control it all. So, I came up with this mantra:

‘You can’t change the past, or what has been done already. You have to put your energy into focusing on how you can help change and improve what’s going to happen next.’

Top tips I took from Stephens presentation:

  • You can do well or do good but you can’t work against your values and be happy
  • Look after yourself so you can look after those around you
  • Cultivate a growth mindset
  • Know what you can influence and what you can’t and make the most of what you can
  • Find your own meditation

Andy Tabberer — Things we talk about when we talk about quality

Quality

I am slightly biased with this talk as Andy has been my PM coach, friend and inspiration for the past 2 years whilst working together at Reckless.

As an official delivery team Andy, Sian and I have worked together in shaping the quality goals and standards. However, the delivery team really involves everyone!

  • Quality as a democracy
  • Including everyone — getting people on board will help make improvements easier, quicker and fun!
  • Consistency, momentum and never giving up
  • System and prevention over individual and intervention
Andy Tabberer
Phil Crosby Quote: “The cost of quality is the expense of doing things wrong.”

Laura Lancaster — Using EQ to Deliver and Natasha Sayce-Zelem — Anything but fluffy…

Laura and Natasha delivered great presentations which complimented each other.

The theme they spoke about was the importance of what are historically known as ‘soft skills’ and rebranded them to ‘emotional intelligence’ or ‘critical business skills’.

Laura explained that, in the technology industry, we work with some brilliant people with high IQs. However, we need more than an off the chart IQ to be able to work in such collaborative and ever-changing environments.

Laura listed 10 points which can help us all be great at our jobs:

  1. Good listener
  2. Understanding strengths and weaknesses
  3. Be positive
  4. Admit when you’re wrong — say sorry!
  5. Embrace feedback and difficult conversations — stick to the facts, give examples, put yourself in their shoes and get ready for questions.
  6. Stop! After drafting your reply to an ‘interesting’ email don’t press send straight away, type it out and revisit it later.
  7. Take yourself outside of your comfort zone — this is where the magic happens!
  8. One size doesn’t fit all — understand that not everyone is the same.
  9. Do what you love and love what you do
  10. Find your own motivation

Natasha added to this by commenting that although hard skills are required to do the work, the ‘soft skills’ are just as important. These take time and practice to craft but ultimately, they are the core reasons for career progression and promotions.

Another focus of Natasha’s talk was around personal development and she shared her experiences outside of work that helped her in her job. Activities such as volunteering at events, talking at conferences and coaching people wanting to get into tech all worked in her favour. Doing things like this can take you out of your comfort zone and can give you a boost of confidence by learning or achieving something that you didn’t think you could do.

Well, that’s a lot of info in one blog post! As you can see, there is so much to gain from attending the event and meeting people who are all in the same boat.

Thanks again to all of the wonderful presenters and to everyone I spoke to at the conference. It really is a great community of people trying to do their best in the world of project delivery by helping each other and sharing experiences.

See you at Deliver Conference 2020!

Over and out

Massive thanks to Beth Milligan for proofreading this post and suggesting improvements!

Useful info:

Read a book— 10% Happier Dan Harris

Watch a video — Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset by John Spencer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1CHPnZfFmU

View slides— Perfectionism Imposter Syndrome Anxiety by Jo Franchetti https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1RpQ7lQ4XIX8D451YfwFAMsaUJ6hw-mcwk8N7-C3UBJ4/mobilepresent?slide=id.g35f391192_00

Take a quiz — Mentioned by Laura Lancaster https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/ei-quiz.htm

Read another book— Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking

How about reading this book too?! — Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by L. David Marquet

Learn more about tech — Sky get into tech http://getintotech.sky.com/