In Romania we get 1 year off work to raise the baby, so I was really prepared & excited to have some “off” time, after almost 4 years of very intensive work. But the “no job” phase freaked me out after just 1 month, as I was starting to get lost in the baby-care routine: eat, change diaper, play, sleep on repeat. Happily I began noticing (or at least imagining 😛 ) things that relate to my job in my daily routine. You can easily compare a baby to a project :). My Lovely July Project (he was born on July 3rd). This way it feels like I can continue developing the soft skills I need at my job during this year.
Here are some examples of skills that I’m practicing with my baby:
– flexibility. Things don’t go exactly as planned (I was preparing for natural childbirth and breastfeeding and I ended up with a C-section and formula), so you need to adapt to change. Also babies are totally unpredictable as all parents can attest, so my really organized style and schedule-oriented nature suffers quietly :).
[This is a really useful skill to have in Project management, especially in the digital world where you need to shift gears or sides rapidly if the client needs to. I am often rigid because I like structure and a well defined process in my projects, so it’s good to learn to let go a little when needed.]
– reality vs theory. I’ve read lots of books to prepare for my mom role and I felt quite confident, I knew the theory. But then reality stroke 🙂 – things are sooo much different! It doesn’t matter what the theory says if your baby wants the exact opposite. You just need to test and adjust as you go.
[I find that this one relates to the methodologies we often use in PM. We sometimes have clients that insist on Agile/Scrum when the project doesn’t really fit in. It’s important to know the theory, but to hand pick all those instruments and principles that help your project thrive, not constrict it.]
– delegate / trust your team. “Team baby” consists of my husband, my mother & my sister and the family doctor – so in order not to go crazy I need to trust them that they can handle my precious baby when I’m sleeping or having some me-time. I am lucky to have them and I am slowly learning to lean on them when needed.
[This is crucial in PM as I need my team of designers and developers to do their best. Every project is team work and I need to pick the best people for the job, but most importantly trust them and give them responsibility. It’s good to practice this skill!]
– communication & expectations / avoid assumptions. Especially between me and my husband, but also within the “team baby”, communication is vital. It’s important to stay on the same page and to provide the baby a consistent environment. Everybody knows and respects his routine and we try not to contradict each other. I think this will get more and more important as the baby grows. And also it’s important to let people know what you expect from them, what’s their role in the team (i.e.: I had to let my mom know that I need her help mostly with house chores and homemade food and not raising my baby).
[I can’t stress enough how essential is communication in a project – between the team members, but also between the PM and the client. I sometimes assume that things are so straightforward that for sure we’re all on the same page — but I’m learning not to do this (ever). Just have everything clear (in writing hopefully) and avoid making assumptions. Clear specifications and organized tasks with known deadlines are key in a project. Communication is also important when conflicts arise — just talk it out! Otherwise the frustrations build up and the team will not work well together.]
That’s it for now :D. It has only been 2 months and a half, I hope to discover more as we move forward. I’ll let you know!
P.S.: I found a blog post that attest the vice versa is true also: project management is like having a baby.