So this is it…. the final blog post for VCT 467! I can’t believe it’s already the end of the semester, everything has flown by so fast and now it’s time for graduation. It was fun making it through this class, I have had my up’s and down’s but overall I feel it was a great experience and I have learned a lot. I have had a lot of fun working with my client and I feel my project was very successful and reflexes my skills as both a graphic designer and a VCT student. I am going to miss all of my friends and some of the VCT faculty but this is the next step in my life! I am going to continue working at Libbey Glass and move out over the summer to start my new life after graduation.
Chapter 16 in the book Making Things Happen talks about politics and power, two ideas that I don’t necessarily like. The author talks about how all leaders have politic constraints and that the people they work with put those constraints on that power. Also, the more power a person has the more responsibilities they have as well as they may have to work with more and more constraints.
Power can be misused when it is used for the wrong purposes as well when it is used and the goals of the project are not achieved. I am sure this happens a lot out in industry because sometimes when people get into positions of power they get very comfortable with that power and they don’t want to step down from their power or maybe they will use their power for other means that do not relate to the goals of the project. To solve problems, the author says you must figure out what the problem is, identify who has the abilities to solve the problem, and how you can use them to help. If someone is a Project Manager they are going to have to learn to use their power and responsibilities for the good of the group. Someone can be an effective PM if they can use all of these skills in order to lead a group of people without abusing their power.
Soooo it has finally come down to the final stretch for VCT 467, only 2 weeks of class left! It’s pretty shocking really, I didn’t think it would fly by this quickly and there were times when it wasn’t moving fast enough. Ha! Anyways, this is going to be a short client update because I am done with my project.
I received my mock up’s yesterday from the printer and they look GREAT!! I am so excited. The colors turned out very nice, the brown wasn’t too dark and the green darkened up a little so it looks perfect. On the one 4 piece cooler some of the text almost gets cut off on the bottom, I may have to go back and change that or maybe it’s just how the mock up got printed, I’m not sure.
Overall I am very satisfied with my project and so is my client. Gary has been very helpful and fun to work with, he is very nice and good at giving me feedback. For now I am going to work on finishing up Module 6 to be turned in this Friday as well as creating my online presentation of my project. This is it….
Mid-game and End-game are two new terms to me that Berkun introduces in this chapter. He says that they both mean the middle of the project and the end of the project which makes sense. It’s a good idea to think of the end of the project in the beginning so you can try and predict to the best of your abilities how it’s going to turn out. He then goes on to talk about how projects are complex non-linear systems which is completely true because they don’t follow a straight line path at all. One moment your project can be heading in one direction and then the next minute it’s in another direction. The key thing is knowing how to deal with it properly and calmly.
Berkun also tells his readers to find the safest way to correct a problem when it occurs to cut down on possible new problems occurring. This is a great piece of information because if someone lets a problem get out of hand then it can cause more problems down the road. I had to deal with something similar at work when we had a problem with printing positives to screen print on our glassware. The boss kept on catching a few mistakes here and there with the artwork that were crucial and we had to redo a job of around 75,000 glasses so we had to have a meeting and come up with a way to check our positives thoroughly before sending off a job for print. If we wouldn’t have caught it then it would have caused some major problems in the future.
This client update is going to be a bit short because I am just about done with my packaging project. Gary has chosen a design and I have been working steadily on the changes. Today I am going to give him the final files and he’s going to have them mocked up and then printed so I can see the final outcome. I can’t wait! It’s one thing to see your design on the computer screen but it evokes a completely different feeling once you see the finished piece!
Besides finishing up the project, I have sent out Evaluation Surveys to everyone I know so I can get some feedback on the project as a whole. I created a simple 11 question survey that I sent out in PDF form, people can just fill it out and send it back to me. I am going to compile all of the results and include them in Module 5 that is due this Friday. So far I have been pleased with the results and I feel I have done a great job on this project and Gary seems to really like it!
Chapter blog post to come….look for it this Thursday! Over and out.
Berkun begins this chapter by cleverly saying that Project Management is an ability that some people have and others lack. I believe this to be true and it’s not such a bad thing. Some people are born to lead and get things done with others have a hard time with it or just lack the skills to do so. Berkun tells us that being a PM means making things happen, which is very true. He says, ” the ability to make things happen is a combination of knowing how to be a catalyst in a variety of different situations and having the courage to do so.” This is so true. The author talks about his experiences as a PM and how he would make lists of things to do. He says that, making things happens means knowing what is important and when to execute that item or step. I have taken this approach before with making ordered lists and I still do. Sometimes on Fridays before I leave work I will make a list of everything I want to get done on Monday because I am likely to forget over the weekend
Berkun tells us that there are 3 types of ordered lists and those are: the list of goals, the list of features, and the list of work items. If all work together in harmony and people know where each item on their list should go, then there shouldn’t be any problems between everyone in the group. He then discusses the idea of how priority 1 in your ordered list has to stay at the top and you have to remember that it’s important, as Berkun says, “you would die without it.” It can be difficult to see items in this way but it will help in the long run. Berkun then talks about how you have to be committed to prioritizing by saying, “The challenge of prioritization is always more emotional/psychological than intellectual, despite what people say. Just like dieting to lose weight or budgeting to save money, eliminating things you want (but don’t need) requires being disciplined, committed, and focused on the important goals.” I completely agree with him and I know that prioritizing can be a big deal for some people, it’s easier for some.
Overall I found this Chapter to be very helpful as always. I really enjoy Berkun’s style of writing, he is very to the point and his book is easy to read. He also throws in a few jokes every now and then and pokes fun at certain subjects. I have learned much more about prioritizing and how to stay on task. I feel I make a fairly good PM and I do have strong prioritizing skills.
After showing Gary my 3 package designs and talking it over with him, he picked Design #1 that I posted last week! I am excited and I really like this one, it was my initial design. He came back to me with a checklist of items that must be on the package for legal purposes and he gave me a small list of changes to make to the design. I am going to spend the rest of this week and weekend getting those changes made and I will try and get them back to Gary early next week to see if there is anything else that needs to be changed or worked on.
I know I have to have the image of the glass and the name of the glass, “Intent” on each panel. I am also going to change the green color to a more “grass green” but I can’t go too dark because once that ink hits the cardboard it’s going to darken on it’s on. I will keep everyone posted on the changes and what’s next for my project.
Chapter 11 is all about what to do when things go wrong, and pretty much things are going to go wrong and people can’t do anything to change that fact. I know I get really upset when things go wrong when I am working on a project and I know I must learn to calm down and assess the problem before moving ahead. Berkun gives his readers a list of things to consider when something goes wrong, and they are: calm down, evaluate the problem, calm down again, get the right people in the room, explore alternatives, make the simplest plans, execute, and debrief. I think this is a great list of steps to follow when something doesn’t go the way you want it to.
I just experienced something going wrong at work, this happened the middle of last week. I wasn’t to fault for the problem but it still effected me. The other designer who’s office is next to mine had forgotten some important text on a glass and the job went to production and somewhere around 75,000 glasses were produced. Part of the fault lies with the customer as well because they didn’t catch the problem either. As a result, my boss had a talk with both of us and we are going to have a short meeting to try and find a way to better proof our work before sending it off for production. I am going to try and come up with a few new ideas to present to the office. I hate it when problems like this happen, it’s even worse when I am the cause of them but they happen and I just have to learn how to better deal with them and approach a solution in a calm manner.
Chapter 12 discusses how being a leader is all about gaining other people’s trust as well as gaining your own trust. This is a HUGE deal out in the industry because the more trust people have in you as a PM the more they will be willing to work with you and enjoy it. Berkun also talks about how other team members will decide on their own once they have met you if they think you’re going to go through with your word or not. This entire chapter is very important because we’re going to use this information for the rest of our lives, as I said primarily out in the work force. I have already had to be a Project Manager for Via Media so I know what it’s like to want to have people trust you. I feel that once I gained the trust of my peers we worked along a lot better with one another and that the project got completed on time and efficiently.
So I have finally completed my 3 comps using Illustrator and I am going to post them here to my blog! I would LOVE some feedback from everyone so please leave me lots of comments and tips. I am going to have a meeting with my client tomorrow, probably a 15-20 minuet meeting so I can present my 3 designs to him. I am hoping he will pick the one he likes best and I can then tweak it to his liking. Nothing is concrete yet, including layouts and colors. Because I am going to be printing on direct cardboard it’s a little hard to know how the colors are going to turn out exactly so that’s one concern I will express to Gary when I meet with him tomorrow. So without further adieu, here are my designs:
Berkun begins the chapter by telling his readers how people out in the work place can get annoyed very easily. He says the 3 things that annoy people most in the work place are e-mails, meetings, and team processes. Berkun then goes on to give a small list of different reasons as to why he gets annoyed easily at work and I can find myself identifying with a few of them. One of the categories that jumps out at me is the “waste my time” section of his list of things that annoy people. It doesn’t happen very often at my job now with Libbey but when I was at my internship working for Adam Street Publishing there were several occasions where they made me waste my time and pretty much gave me busy work. I can remember once instance when my boss asked me to design a t-shirt for an event the Toledo City Paper was going to be throwing and I spent most of the day drawing out a design for the shirt (it was a back to school themed shirt so I drew lots of school related objects). After my design was complete, I found out that they had had another employee go behind my back and create his own t-shirt design that the company ended up using and no one was going to tell me my design wasn’t acceptable. I was furious because I had wasted a lot of time and effort on my design for no reason.
Next, Berkun begins to explain what a process is and how teams use them. A process is a systematic way of doing something, or the steps taken to get a job done. Every job has a different process and as Berkun says, ” any idiot with power can come up with the most mind-numbingly idiotic system for doing something and force the team to follow…” which is very true. At my job right now we have a process we must follow when preparing artwork for screen printing and if we miss or leave out a step it can cause major problems down the road. The author says, “The trick in creating good processes is to understand two things: what makes projects and teams successful in general, and what makes the current project and team different from others.” This is crucial because a lot PMers want to use the same process over and over and sometimes that process doesn’t apply to the current situation. A good PM should know how to adapt to their situation and create new processes when needed.
Another important topic Berkun touches on is the formula for creating a successful process. He says DT+LT+(AT*N) = a good process. He talks about you have to figure in the time to design the process, how it takes people to learn it, the actual work the process takes, and you multiply it by how often it’s done. The author’s next big topic in this chapter deals with annoying e-mails and how to write successful ones. This is becoming a major thing at my job because most of my communication to sales people is through e-mailing and not very many of the sales people I deal with e-mail me properly. I don’t like it when I receive e-mails with no capitals, misspelled words, poor punctuation, and half ass messages. It happens to me all the time and most of the time if I get a bad e-mail I will call the sales person to have them explain to me what they were trying to say. I could literally type up a book on this subject so I am going to restrain myself E-mail is a HUGE part of the workforce and I think people should learn to e-mail properly and have to on a daily basis. Like Berkun says, if the group leader e-mails his or her group and uses proper spelling, ideas, etc. then the group will be encouraged to respond in the same manner. Berkun then goes on to touch on the topic of what a good meeting is and how you can achieve one. He says the only way a meeting is going to successful is if people can facilitate with one another because otherwise it will be a big waste of time and everyone in the meeting has to get paid so it can be a huge waste of money that could’ve been spent on solving problems or getting work accomplished.
Chapter 9 in Making Things Happen is a very important chapter because it discusses how important effective communication is as well as how people must maintain relationships to keep that communicate afloat. Berkun says, “Today, communication is still important, but two things have changed. First, speed is no longer the primary problem (how can you get faster than instant messaging?). Instead, the problem has become the quality and effectiveness of communication. Second, communication isn’t enough for complex work: there need to be effective relationships between the people who are working together.” I really like this statement because he touches on the idea that there has to be effective relationships with people who are working together in order to have good communication.
I deal with communication everyday while working at Libbey in the New Product Development area. My job consists of screen printing on glassware and I am constantly keeping in touch with sales people who are in turn communicating with their clients who are the people who place the screen printing orders. Sometimes communication fails and problems can arise. I have noticed it is much harder to communicate through e-mail and a lot of the sales people like to e-mail. The problem with this type of communication is it can be very slow and with my job things can pop up quickly so you may need to get a hold of the sales person quickly. I like to call on the phone because it’s a bit more personal and you can discuss a lot of things at once, also not all of the sales people are in Toledo, they are scattered throughout the country so sometimes it’s easier to call them. But after reading Chapter 9 and experiencing it myself, I can relate with Berkun and talk about how important it is to have a good relationship with someone before you can communicate effectively with them.
Berkun goes on to talk about people who ask for others opinions while working and how he used to not ask any questions and do all of the work himself. I am the opposite, I love to ask questions and for help, especially if the person I am asking has a lot more experience than I do. I do this all the time at work. Berkun also talks about this two employees he knew that would talk to other team members all the time and he thought they were just socializing but in fact they were learning about their co-workers which in turn helped them to communication more effectively. There are five basic states of communication and they are: transmitted, received, understood, agreed, and converted to useful action. Berkun says, “Good communicators think about how deep into this five-step model they need to go to be effective, and they craft communication to make that possible.” He goes on to talk about common communication problems known as assumption, lack of clarity, not listening, dictation, problem mismatch, and personal attacks. I already talked about my most common communication at work, and that would fall under the lack of clarity because it’s not always clear if me and a sales person should e-mail each other or call.
Overall this chapter was very useful and I can relate to what the author is saying because I use communication and my relationship skills everyday at work. I think a lot of people forget that you have to have a good relationship with someone before you can communication well with them so it’s a great rule to live by.
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