“Mistakes which happen over and over with multiple different clients – can usually be tracked back to the agency.”

Carl Smith

Last month I was lucky enough to attend the DPM summit in Philadelphia, PA. The most worthwhile thing I brought back was the confidence to act on the changes we need. Our workflow at Plank is very solid and only needs minor tuneups, which makes things even trickier. I now have a better sense of what we need to run even better. It was like going to a master mechanics class. I’d like to offer a huge thank you to Brett, GregAllison and the whole team at Happy Cog who made it happen.

Here’s the second part of my favourite take aways from the event (See part 1 here).

Liesl Pfeffer

Risk Management for Digital Projects

Liesl gave one solid piece of advice I could act on right away.

Take away:

“At the start of any project — set checkpoints which are immovable”

Rachel Gertz

Your Clients Matter, So Put Your Team First

Rachel had an interesting scope management tactic.

Take away:

Introducing the “If you’re not at kickoff — you don’t get a say” clause. The idea is that if stakeholders want to have a say in decisions they need to be present from the beginning to avoid end game surprises and scope changes.

Sam Barnes

Vice Versa Client Management

Sam suggested a simple idea that is one of my favourites from the whole conference:

Take away:

Send a consistent weekly reporting actions list to keep everyone in the know:

  1. What will be done this week
  2. What will be done next week
  3. Blockers/issues
  4. Revised timeline
  5. Revising budget

Each section is filled out and sent once a week even if there’s no change. Everyone likes getting emails that say the budget and timeline remains intact with no revisions!

Carl Smith

Client Whisperer – Lessons from the Front Lines

Carl made us realize that nobody is perfect – even us agency folk.

Take aways:

“Common pitfalls — mistakes which happen over and over with multiple different clients – can usually be tracked back to the agency.”

“No one likes a buzzer beater (trying to guess what the client is going to say).”

Aretha Choi

3 Difficult Conversations You’re Bound To Encounter as a Producer

Aretha reminded us of the importance of being honest. Especially when delivering bad news.

Take away:

“There is no such thing as a diplomatic hand grenade.”

Brenna Heaps & Katie High

The PM’s Toolkit

Brenna and Katie shared some of their tried and tested DPM resources.

Take away:

HappyCog has no phones on desks — instead they use grasshopper for forwarding calls to cellphone. 

Breandán Knowlton (@bfk)

Managing Up, Down, and Sideways

Brendan shared the Fiske Model “a framework for a unified theory of social relations” — covering Community sharing, Authority ranking, Equality matching, and Market pricing.

Take away:

Understanding which category each relationship falls into can help everyone.

Michael Lopp

Stables and Volatiles

Michael talked about taking risks and growing a small business.

Take away:

“If you’re planning on growing, you need to create an environment where both Stables and Volatiles can thrive.”

A bit of fun

Lastly I must end this with the late night question that kept us all belly laughing.

“Would you rather be killed by a bear or a shark? There is no escape, and you’re definitely going to die. Which do you choose?”


Can’t wait for DPM2014!

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