Blog 53


The Degree 53 team of Project Managers and Business Analysts attended Deliver Conference on Thursday 25th January 2018 by Manchester Digital. We were also sponsoring the event, so it was a great opportunity for us to get our name out there and support the digital community in Manchester. Christina, our Project Co-ordinator, has shared her highlights from the day.

Alison Coward - Building an effective team culture

Alison’s take on teamwork and how teams work best together was really interesting. She gave some great examples of how to create strong team environments and effective team culture. Teamwork can be described as dynamic, fluid, temporary, elastic and virtual. As we start to work more effectively in a team with shared responsibilities and disciplines, information needs to be transferred quickly. Companies, such as AirBnB and Spotify adopt this ethos and are prime examples of how this approach can be effective.

Alison also explained how individuals should set regular time for deep work where they are not distracted by office interaction, for example questions and meetings. This enables teams to increase their productivity hugely, even when only giving them a couple of distraction-free hours a week.

Cara Bermingham – A people-first approach to transformation

I found her talk beneficial as she provided a more visual presentation of how she manages her team along with the product owners’ point of view and how to work efficiently with that role. As she had worked in both agencies and larger organisations, she gave a good overview and insight into how each may differ and which techniques to use best. She also went through various stages and highlighted things, such as R&D time and a focus on the shared outcomes rather than deliverables.

There was one idea in particular that stood out to me in Cara’s talk - a “people-first” approach to transformation. She suggested that during a project pre-mortem, it’s a good idea to print off the project timeline and have all members of the team predicting how they will feel at certain points during the project journey.

Actions to take forward:

  • Acknowledge how change will feel for people
  • Factor extra time for learning and support
  • Focus on the shared outcomes
  • Get the key relationships right

Chris Burns - Build the right thing

Chris talked about moving from individual to team practises so there is a consistency in approach and delivery. Doing this as early as possible breeds understanding and confidence. He also stressed the importance of understanding why a project needs to begin clearly and early. This gives the team focus and a clear outcome beyond the how of delivering. Go in search of value.

Vicky Walsh - Managing expectations of you

Vicky’s talk was really engaging and her enthusiasm showed through each of her presentation sections. She gave a good overview of working in project management within an agency. Her project points exercise for understanding PM effort on a project and it was an interesting concept to consider people having different capacity in what they can manage based on experience.

Hayley Hinsley - Aim wide, not just high

Hayley’s presentation on T-shape people was something that seemed very relevant to our agency environment. PMs that contribute more than just the core project management skills and experience will add more value to their teams, and ultimately the company.

Roisi Proven - Compartmentalised empathy – how to support others without losing yourself

Roisi provided some useful book references and gave a good insight into project management within an agency. She highlighted how informing people of bad news should be the same as when you give good news to keep the situation as positive as you can, keeping emails clear and concise as people only read the points and information that is relevant to them.

Rachel Shah - Data driven delivery

Rachel’s talk really got me thinking on how we can use the data at Degree 53 to drive further efficiency. It’s not only for internal benefit, but how can we use our data to help our clients further. Particular areas of focus using data are quality, responsiveness, productivity and predictability.

Meghan Mcinerny - Level up: leadership MVP

Meghan’s talk and her methods of working were probably the most powerful in terms of how you can grow within the industry. She gave a good overview of how to tackle difficult situations and gave good examples of her own personal experiences. She spoke about being a good leader, both from a team perspective and client perspective. I picked up some valuable tips from her around leading an effective kick off meeting that will benefit the project long term, learning how to deliver bad news and addressing conflict about ideas in teams.

Overall I found the day really useful and beneficial being a fairly new member to the Degree 53 project team and I would definitely attend the conference again. The speakers provided some great insights and it was good to see how other Project Managers work in their own team structures, as well as learning about the methods they use to make the team and business more effective.

Here's also an interview with our Operations Director, Rich, discussing why we chose to get involved with Deliver Conference and the importance of our local digital community.

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