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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Project Management

A recent article on A List Apart made some interesting points about project management. The article, Hat Heads vs. Bed Heads, used the metaphors of “hat heads” (representing the management side of the project team) and “bed heads” (representing the creative side of the project team) to talk about how to manage projects at an overview level. While it’s an article mostly targeted at large development teams in an industry environment, much of the content is applicable to smaller teams and other environments. I’m not sure that I agree with all of the details, but it’s certainly an interesting perspective on the matter.

Edit – Looks like when I changed the wording of my second sentence, I didn’t do it very well.

posted by Zach at 12:08 am  


  1. Hi, Zach –

    This is an insanely well-written article. One correction, however: you have the terms reversed. Hat Heads are representative of the management and Bed Heads are representative of the creative staff.

    In terms of the article, what did you not agree with? I work for Keith at Visual Activity, so I was interested to hear what you have to say.

    Comment by Ryan Kipler — September 29, 2007 @ 10:04 am

  2. Thanks for pointing out my mis-matching of the terminology.

    As far as disagreements, the main point that I didn’t really agree on was ‘Rule #2: Employ the Buddy System”. I’m sure it’s effectiveness varies from situation to situation, but in my experience, while it’s valid to a point (building strong trust with one member of the team does help build trust with the whole team), it can also cause some tension; people wonder why such strong trust exists, and when people wonder about something, they begin to speculate, and when people speculate, they begin to gossip. I’ve seen it work in a lot of situations, but once the gossip starts, people sometimes question the motivation behind decisions/compromises being made. I’m sure I work on smaller projects and with smaller teams than Keith does, but I’ve found it’s better to establish at least some trust at an individual level with as many involved people as possible. When everyone feels comfortable sharing issues, they can be brought up (and resolved) is a much more timely manner.

    Feel free to correct me if you think I misunderstand the application of the rule. That would probably account for not agreeing with it. Either way, I’d love to hear another opinion on ‘Rule 2′; maybe I just haven’t run into enough larger sized teams or situations where it’s more applicable.

    Comment by Zach — September 29, 2007 @ 12:44 pm

  3. The rule shouldn’t be mutually exclusive to the size of the team, and I can understand apprehension due to the gossip factor, but that’s mostly his point: get past the gossip and the hearsay by forming a trusted relationship with a client. This also helps if you are looking for either additional work from another department (since your business partner would have some amount of influence to their peers, etc…) or from the business partner.

    One thing Keith’s been able to do on the dozens of projects I’ve seen him manage is keep a wonderful relationship between client and creative. Don’t ask me how he does it (aside from the article’s main points), but it truly works.

    Comment by Ryan Kipler — September 29, 2007 @ 6:24 pm

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