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American Red Cross

A

Interviewee

33 Designer

Team Advantages

Team Disadvantages

1, 1

Project Outcome

Unsuccessful

Industry

Medical

Location

Chicago

Team Risk Tolerance

High

Team Dynamics

TeamDynamics_Dismissive,TeamDynamics_Micromanaging

Company

American Red Cross


There was a project manager who came from San Francisco to manage this project. She was managing myself, and another full-time person here, and a freelancer. None of us knew each other very well and I don't think that we necessarily laid out skillsets, and expectations, and capabilities or ... you know, up front. [2699],[2720]
I don't think there was a lot of ownership over anything and then we were all doing a ton of work. So it's sort of like the work with the reward of feeling like you actually can make it better with your experience and with your knowledge. [2724],[2702],[2701]
So as we got further along in the project, it felt as if ... She was amazingly smart, did a great job, knew her content, was very capable of leading that large of a project, but the team felt like we were being instructed to do things instead of actually a part of what was going on, which I think it just caused a lot of problems. [2700],[2723],[2722],[2721]
And then, toward the end of the project, she actually had lived here for so long that she chose to move back to San Francisco and come back every two weeks. That was just a mess to have someone who is very controlling in nature of the content but not with the team all day long. It felt like everything we were doing every day, we had to check in to make sure it was okay. It just totally fell apart. [2725],[2726],[2727],[2703]
I think that we sort of learned as a company, or as a location at least, that that sort of thing doesn't work to have someone leading a project who's not in the trenches of things. But it was a hard experience to learn through. [2704]
I think so. It certainly let ... I don't think a location here will ever do that again. We had sort of a post-mortem or more positively, a project to recap afterward and jointly said that wasn't a good idea. We shouldn't do that ever again as far as the resources [2705]
She was absolutely the right person to lead it, so it was a conflict of where she was and we were. All the rest of the following projects have been done out of the San Francisco offices as opposed to out of this office, which is probably more successful just because of the cohesiveness of the team. It just made for a really messy, logistical project in the middle of everything. [2706],[2728],[2729]
I think the outcome suffered a little bit because I think that ... I know for certain that the two other people who are on the team with me felt really disconnected and were sort of just finishing the work. I think that whenever you're in a position where you don't feel like you're doing your best work, the work could be better than that. [2709],[2707],[2710],[2708]
Right. I think part of the issue, which lays it out perhaps a little too simply, is that the project manager has to have trust in the team. The teams that I've worked with when a project manager has trust, and respect, and confidence in the team has gone amazingly well. [2730],[2731]
Part of the problem may not be her fault. It may just be that she doesn't know us, so she was trying to keep a close reign to make sure the project succeeded. But without knowledge of the team, it's really hard to do such a big thing. You also can't let everybody go on blind trust and have it fall flat on its face, which I understand. The happy medium between it is really tough. [2711],[2712]
We've spoken about this internally, and we've tried to start a new structure where we have internal kick-off meetings that basically lay out on the table, "This is what I'm good at doing. This is what I like doing. These are my expectations," or even work style or hours if you have limitations, and things you don't want to touch with a 10-foot pole. [2732],[2713]
Just out of respect for each other to try to feel like, you know, if you and I were working together, and I knew something was your sweet spot and I'm sort of indifferent about it, of course, it makes sense for you to do it. But if you don't know that about someone, it's impossible to have things go smoothly because you're delegating things that are somewhat random in a sense. [2714]
So I think, as a company, if we start doing kickoffs and start having those conversations up front where we can really sit down as a team before the project even starts and sort of lay out on the table what ideally we'd like our involvement to be. Obviously, that's not always gonna fit perfectly. You're gonna have to do some things that you don't love to do all the time but I think that it can be ... That's the best way to manage it. [2715],[2716]
Also, that I think the teams that we have that are the most successful sometimes are the people who worked together a lot in the past, which is sort of a no-brainer, but unfortunately it's not always possible [2717]
"I ran into a problem on my last project where this happened, so let's try to avoid that this time," or things like that. We always do a client kickoff. We kick off with the client just to go over the expectations of the project, but it used to be rare that we had an internal kickoff just with the team. I think it's just really necessary. And to check in when things change along the way. [2733]
We have an anxiety chart. I don't know if anyone's mentioned that or if you've seen it. It's sort of like a timeline from the beginning to the end of the project, and people get really excited in the beginning and then they get really ... clients this is ... get really stressed out, because we tend to do research and find some really interesting things, and then when we do synthesis and try to come up with how to apply our learnings, it gets really, really messy. [2718],[2719]
But I've been in a few projects where we actually show the client this chart at this point, and it always makes them feel better because they sometimes feel like the project's just going south because they don't know and our process is really messy. We know how to deal with it, but a lot of other people don't. [2734]
eah. Which I think, you know, even as a new employee, I did this through a project because it gets so messy. I've worked as a graphic designer for 10 years, but this is such a different environment than anything I've ever worked in. When you get to this point and you have no idea where the project is headed, you're sort of like, "What the hell am I doing here?" I think even for us, it takes us going through this a couple times in order to be comfortable with the range. [2735]
why I didn't feel like it was successful, is because I wasn't happy with my role and it was mostly because I didn't know the company well enough to figure out how to make my role better. [2685]
Okay. It was my second project here and it was a six month project so it was a really long project. And it was a team of four of us. And I think part of, personally, why I didn't feel like it was successful, is because I wasn't happy with my role and it was mostly because I didn't know the company well enough to figure out how to make my role better. [2679]
But it also was a situation where the project manager was very hands on and controlling of the content [2688],[2689]
But it also was a situation where the project manager was very hands on and controlling of the content, and so it felt very directed instead of team based as a project [2680]
It also was a ton of work and we didn't have quite enough resources, but by the time that we got down to the wire it was a little bit too late to pull the right people in to help. [2686],[2681],[2687]
I think it probably could have been a lot better. I didn't feel a whole lot of ownership over it, so I think that was part of my problem with it. [2691],[2690],[2692]
Blood donor base. So we basically went in and tried to figure out what people's opinions are about donating blood and why they were, were not, and how to ... you know we found that once people got into the experience, it was often really chaotic and unprofessional and they never came back. PROJECT ID [2693],[2694]
So that was the main things we focused on, is the mobile sites that often attract first time donors, but yet are the type of sites that are so disorganized because they move from location to location that people who have never been in a donor position before feel like it's really awkward. And people are yelling and fainting and they often never do it again. [2696],[2695]
It is a nice luxury to have to be able to go back to a client and say, we know this is what you want, but we think you really need something different. [2682]
I don't think necessarily. The biggest time challenge was that because the project was so large, although it had one decision maker on the client's side, there was a big team of people who were involved. We had check ins every two weeks for six months, so it really felt like we were racing to have something tangible every two weeks. Which made it, I think it interrupted things a little bit because it always felt like, if we weren't at a point to show something, we had to be. So we just had to sort of speed through things in order to get there. [2697],[2698]
The biggest time challenge was that because the project was so large, although it had one decision maker on the client's side, there was a big team of people who were involved. We had check ins every two weeks for six months, so it really felt like we were racing to have something tangible every two weeks. Which made it, I think it interrupted things a little bit because it always felt like, if we weren't at a point to show something, we had to be. So we just had to sort of speed through things in order to get there. [2683]
You know, I think that the relationship with the client was good and I think that it's continued to be a positive relationship in the projects following this, as far as I know. [2684]
Reference Tags
[2699] Indecisive leadership,[2720] Lack of resources,[2724] Lack of organizational encouragement,[2702] Lack of challenging work,[2701] Unbalanced workload pressure,[2700] Micromanaging,[2723] Forceful conflict about ideas,[2722] Micromanaging,[2721] Reactance,[2725] Forceful conflict about ideas,[2726] Micromanaging,[2727] Reactance,[2703] Unbalanced workload pressure,[2704] Great example - Individual & Team outcomes for future efforts,[2705] Great example - Individual & Team outcomes for future efforts,[2706] Great example - Individual & Team outcomes for future efforts,[2728] Internal changes/challenges,[2729] Lack of resources,[2709] Anecdotal fallacy,[2707] Inexperience,[2710] Lack of organizational encouragement,[2708] Rosy retrospection,[2730] Lack of trust,[2731] Micromanaging,[2711] Empathetic disposition,[2712] Unresolved relationship conflict,[2732] Empathetic disposition,[2713] Organizing effectively,[2714] Organizing effectively,[2715] Great example - Individual & Team outcomes for future efforts,[2716] Organizing effectively,[2717] Status quo bias,[2733] Empathetic disposition,[2718] Communication issues,[2719] Risk compensation,[2734] Alignment,[2735] Status quo bias,[2685] Reactance,[2679] Inexperience,[2688] Forceful conflict about ideas,[2689] Micromanaging,[2680] Micromanaging,[2686] Lack of resources,[2681] Lack of resources,[2687] Planning fallacy,[2691] Lack of trust,[2690] Micromanaging,[2692] Reactance,[2693] Empathetic disposition,[2694] Listening disposition,[2696] Empathetic disposition,[2695] Listening disposition,[2682] Communication issues,[2697] Alignment,[2698] Unbalanced workload pressure,[2683] Alignment,[2684] Great example - Individual & Team outcomes for future efforts

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MADISON BARNETT
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