Creative Project Management

 

Hey everyone! I’m guest writer, Eric Kieron Davis, and I was the Creative Producer for Genese’s novel. From the beginning of the manuscript through completion, I had one goal in mind: Get the book written! Let’s dive in to the project management perspective within the creative journey of writing.

Being a creative producer is rewarding and challenging. A producer’s first step should be to create a schedule, establish structure and ultimately define what the writer needs from you as their project manager. For Genese’s book, we started out utilizing the Waterfall project management method targeting six month milestones. This methodology is built around dependencies (tasks that are dependent upon the previous) creating a waterfall effect. The first six month goal was to complete all chapters described in the skeleton. We also decided to meet every few weeks to discuss progress or pitfalls.

English: The Scrum project management method. ...

This was a great jumping off point because it allowed a high-level overview with very large over arching goals. However, as the novel progressed I realized she was becoming overwhelmed with the hundreds of fine details she wanted to weave into the story. How can a writer be expected to keep it all straight? Novels have underlining and overlapping plots and subplots where dozens of characters interact and change, and where the smallest detail can impact the story in minute and grand defining ways. It was clear I needed to change our project management style. That adjustment moved us to Scrum/Agile project management.

Scrum is a method that utilizes smaller time frames with more specific goals to make for quicker iteration and more frequent changes during development. We established short-term deliverables based around users stories the author creates – I will explain user stories in more detail in future Project Management posts. I guided her through the process of creating her extensive backlog of tasks for us to establish deliverables and target completion dates, and created detailed sprints with more frequent meet-ups in smaller amounts of time.

One thing to remember, never try to force an artist to comply with the project management process. If goals are not being met, it is the producer’s job to ask penetrating questions, find out what could be halting production, and what process works best for the artist. This is where one-on-one meetings are invaluable. Meeting weekly to discuss different aspects of the novel’s progress such as word count, skeleton comparisons, goal and delivery date review, help in innumerable ways. More details to come in the “One-on-One” posts. It was my job to make sure I didn’t overly burden the author with harsh date expectations as I wanted her to focus on creating an amazing story. However, I needed to ensure we stayed on track and delivered a complete product in a reasonable amount of time. Balancing these two important factors are the main focus of a great creative producer.

  • Note: No two projects are the same which demands creativity from you as the project manager. Be open to changing your style by flexing to the needs of the artist.

There is no one perfect solution – creative problems demand creative solutions. Working with artists, writers, or musicians guarantees production will change as much as the creative project will. And honestly that is okay and should be expected. A producer has to be flexible and insightful when it comes to making and foreseeing changes. There is a sense of organic freedom that comes with writing, so finding the right strategy to complete your work is sometimes as tough as finding an amazing topic to write.

  • Tools Used:
    • Google Documents Spreadsheet: I used this to track all the author’s work-logs for one on ones and status updates. I tracked the following details:Pivotal Tracker Project Screenshot
      • Date – Work Time (Hours) – Task – Word Count – Comments
    • Gantt Chart – I used this during the first phase of the novel utilizing Waterfall methodologies.
    • White Board – Many different ideas, discussions, and one-on-one sessions ended up at the white board to strategize goals and deliverables.
    • Pivotal Tracker – This is a website we used to track user stories and house the author’s entire backlog.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to talking more about project management and production in the coming weeks.

Until then, let us know what style has worked for you. What process did you use to complete your writings? If you haven’t set one up leave us a comment and we can try to help! 🙂

 

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7 thoughts on “Creative Project Management

  1. It’s really great that your were able to have a solid approach to helping Genese get her ideas into the book and do so with more direction. I look forward to reading the other posts as well!

  2. A whiteboard is an excellent idea. Rather than buying one though, I’m using a free program I found online which is a whiteboard simulator. Looks like it will prove very helpful for brainstorming, and I’ll definitely be looking into the Waterfall technique when my ideas have a bit more structure. Thanks so much! 😀

    • If time exsits I guess you can manage it. When I in due course review Time Management for Creative People since I am outside of the design community, I am hoping to find creative ways of looking at time. This means time as a perception not as a clock and not strictly in the mechanics of managing time but time leadership. I do believe that there is something to design thinking that should make my understanding of the relationship between time and creativity, fundamentally different to the way ordinary mortals manage existence.Anyway, it is always good to jump into a new ocean and see how people in a different discipline deal with a common issue across all professions. M.

  3. Hi Genese/Eric,

    We have published a long time ago (almost 4 years ago) an article defining what is Scrum, you can read it here.

    By the way, for the tools, you might want to also consider using a Wiki….

    • “Rather, we think what they need is more akin to lean pjreoct management, which is collaborative and is focused on eliminating waste as it?s primary function.”For me, this is THE most important part of the product description. Lean and Agile go hand in hand, so it is VERY heartening to see a company state up front that they encourage a different way of looking at legal practice management. It’s not just a change of wrapper.Looking forward to joining the OnIt beta program, reporting on the company and sharing the link with the Agile Community! It would be awesome to use an Agile/Lean product to do the teamwork planning around the Agile Law Conference (maybe even in stead of Google Docs!).Every wish for OnIt’s success!

  4. Excellent post! I think this rllaey illustrates the complexity, but also the manageability of ERP implementations. They are not discrete IT projects, nor an exercise in forward planning or any number of other things. A successful ERP implementation hinges on people from across the company engaging on a company-wide level in a way they perhaps rarely do. IT has to be led by management priorities, with the strategic vision guided by the situation on the shop floor and the potential of the ERP solution chosen.The key is rllaey in planning and communication, and a consistent focus on the possible.

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