Take it from me: Projects have weather patterns.
The Inqune Portland HQ are on the 31st floor of the US Bancorp Building, better known as Big Pink. From this vantage, I can watch the weather come and go: storms roll in over the west hills, sweep across downtown, cross the Willamette River, and blow out again, drenching the East Side as they go.
We start with sunshine: Closing a deal is exciting for us, because we love knowing that a prospect agrees that we can help them. Often dark clouds roll in soon after, as we work our contracts through legal negotiations, but skies brighten again with the project launch: the client gets to open up and tell us their problems, hopes, and expectations, and we get to work with them to brainstorm solutions to them. We interview lots of people– and given our clients, those people are usually really cool– and learn the ins and outs of how the business works. And then we get to present our findings to the project team, which is often really cathartic: like a summer rain breaking a heat wave, having the triumphs and pain points of your company mirrored back to you can be a tremendous relief.
As we start building content, storm clouds inevitably roll in. Maybe some information from discovery that seemed clear when we gathered it shows its thin spots as we try to turn it into curriculum. Maybe internal process changes at the company invalidate our work-in-progress and we need to make changes. Maybe we just hit a creative block for a bit. Regardless, the process of getting all scoped content to the first review stage can be filled with squalls.
But storms pass, and as we begin validating content with the client, the weather usually improves. It can get foggy– waiting for materials to come back with critiques and improvements, smoothing the review-revise-approve process flow, keeping a large team of people on schedule– but the work gets done and, as we come up to project launch, we get to enjoy the rainbow that comes after the storm.
Managing our projects is a bit like watching Portland weather from the 31st floor. The vantage point makes a storm seem predictable, observable, and beautiful, in its own way. And keeping in mind that the storms will inevitably come– and go again– is a good way to keep our heads as we slog through the rougher parts of project work.