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Creative Design & Project Management with Greg Storey

“Be more of the coach and less of the time-tracker.”

Creative project management isn’t always easy—especially if there’s friction between project managers and design teams. So how do you give creativity room to thrive while ensuring design projects deliver on time and budget?

In this episode of Time Limit, Brett talks with Greg Storey about how project managers and designers can leverage their unique skills to build strong partnerships with each other. Prior to his role as VP of Product/Operations at LexBlog, Greg worked in design leadership at IBM and InVision and ran his own design agency. 

Whether you’re a project manager leading a design team or a designer managing creative projects on your own, listen to their conversation to learn:

  • How the design role fits into the creative project management process
  • PM skills that can help designers manage their projects better
  • Why communication is such a critical part of creative project management
  • How to work together to ensure design reviews go smoothly
  • Tactics you can use to build buy-in and understanding with your design team
  • Simple questions that will help you provide the right kind of support to designers

About our guest

Guest

Greg Storey
VP of Product/Operations at LexBlog

Greg brings a wealth of industry experience and wisdom to his work gained through years of work with agencies, SMB, and Fortune 100 enterprises. It's given him a unique and valuable perspective on what makes design successful in a variety conditions. He's a willing collaborator ready to partner across teams. Despite his impressive experience, Greg is humble and remains connected to the practice of design. Today Greg serves as VP of Product/Operations for LexBlog, a leading publishing company in the legal industry.

Episode Transcript

Transcript

Brett Harned:                                          Hey, thanks for joining me for another episode of Time Limit. I'm your host, Brett Harned. This week, we're digging into relationships. Now, it's nothing touchy-feely, but I think relationships are pretty important when you're focused on getting work done and you want to actually feel good about it. I've been wanting to do some interviews about the relationships that project managers have with other disciplines and kind of to dig in on the nuances, and the unique situations, or even conversations you might yourself in with the folks on your team. So, I invited my friend and colleague, Greg Storey, to come on the show and to talk about how designers and project managers can work together.

Brett Harned:                                          Greg is currently the COO of LexBlog, and he's got an amazing resume, including his work in design leadership at IBM and Envision, and even running his own design agency, which is where we had the opportunity to work together. If you've ever worked with designer or want to get better at working in design, you're going to get a lot out of this one. So, check it out.

Brett Harned:                                          Greg Storey, welcome to Time Limit. How are you doing?

Greg Storey:                                           I'm doing good. How are you?

Brett Harned:                                          I'm doing so well. It's been a long time since we've recorded a conversation like this, huh?

Greg Storey:                                           Yeah, it has been. Yes.

Brett Harned:                                          On that note, I feel like we should let our listeners know that you and I are friends. We've known each other for a long time. We've worked together for a while. You wrote the forward to my book, Project Management for Humans. Then, we recorded a podcast together, Sprints and Milestones. It's a lot of stuff.

Greg Storey:                                           Yes. That was a lot of fun.

Brett Harned:                                          It was a lot of fun. We have to do that again. And I'm really looking forward to this conversation, so thanks for joining me on Time Limit. I'm looking forward to kind of digging into a topic that's been one that I really like talking about because I've worked with a lot of designers in my career. And I know that the relationship between a project manager and a designer, or really anyone else on that team, is an important thing to pay attention to. But, we're going to zero in on the relationship between project managers and designers today.

Brett Harned:                                          To kick it off, I think maybe we should kind of set the stage in a way for what we mean by designer, because I think a lot of people from different backgrounds and organizations listen to Time Limit. So, maybe can you just fill in our audience in on kind of your role and maybe roles that you've had or managed within design specifically and kind of where those roles exist?

Greg Storey:                                           Yeah. I consider myself a designer. That's how I got started in the industry back in the mid '90s. In that time, I have designed just about anything you can think of and have also led not just design teams but design development, even project managers, researchers, the whole gamut, the full complement of a digital team. Then, of course, you and I have worked together at Happy Cog for a while. That was fun.

Greg Storey:                                           But first and foremost, I think I always considered myself a designer. I'm a chief operating officer at a small company right now. But even so, I rely on a lot of my design sense and sensibility to do everything from what most people would consider design or that could be anywhere from graphic design to UX or UI, selecting type, colors, all that kind of thing, to the design of processes and how people work together, getting people to collaborate and doing that in a visual way through something called design thinking. Design is very much a part of just about everything that do.

Greg Storey:                                           In terms of what a definition of designer is, in my book, a designer is a person who hopefully has a full skillset that enables them to take an idea that comes from the business or, say, a client and using design and design thinking is able to lead user research, conduct user research, validate these ideas through a number of design activities that might include prototyping. Once those ideas are vetted and fleshed out, they then take that work and start to craft what you'd probably call the UX user experience work, wireframes, that type of thing, all the way through what some folks call UI design, interactive design, which is what do the buttons looks like, what's the type system that we're using, even what was the design system, starting to build those types of things. Not all designers have all those capabilities, but all those activities fall within the ... I'd say well within the wheelhouse of modern design practice.

Brett Harned:                                          Thanks so much for clarifying that, because I think that in some places I've worked and some people that I know, design is treated more as a, "Oh, they just make this thing," or, "They make this thing pretty." And the way that you're describing it is much bigger. Design and process is a big piece of that because every designer has kind of their own process for how they create a thing, if that really is their role within a job.

Brett Harned:                                          But, then you're kind of talking about design as a leadership role, not only growing into design leadership. I would say you're in kind of a design leadership role at this point, using your design experience to lead a company I think is a pretty big and amazing accomplishment. But, not all designers get to that point in their career. I think some people might even struggle with the idea of what is my own process and how do I get things done. So, I'm sure that you see where I'm leading you with this is like, "Project manager is working with designers," right?

Brett Harned:                                          I know a lot of designers who don't work with PMs. I've even worked as a writer with designers who don't have PMs and things go way off track. And I'm wondering, do you see that as a challenge? Do you think project management is a skill that PMs should have? That designers should have? Sorry.

Greg Storey:                                           I think that anybody who has to deliver work back to ... let's say the business. So in other words, I'm hired to create work and to deliver it for somebody who's a non-designer. Absolutely. You've got to have some type of project management skills, strategy, and tactics. You just have to. Because to me, a lot of what project management is is making sure the people are collaborating, that they're interacting, that they're understanding one another, that they're actively listening. How many times have you felt like you were interpreting what one person was saying to a designer or vice versa because they were speaking different languages, so to speak?

Brett Harned:                                          Absolutely. Yeah, I think that happens all the time.

Greg Storey:                                           So if you're a designer who does not have the benefit ... And I stress that, like bold it, italicize it. If you don't have the benefit or working with the project manager, then you definitely have to spend ... You have to invest time to conduct project management-like activities. And first and foremost is you have to have some type of plan with dates that say, "I'm going to deliver on this," and you have to meet those dates, which we'll get to here in a second.

Greg Storey:                                           Secondly, and thirdly, and fourthly, fifthly, sixthly, seventhly, all the way to ... We'll go to [Spanish 00:08:47]. You have to communicate. And this to me is ... This is something that I struggled with. Even after I started a studio, I struggled with communication. I know it's not a strong suit for a lot of creative people that I know. Part of that is I think by and large a lot of creatives procrastinate because they're ... In every project they do, they're trying to, to some degree, out do themselves.

Greg Storey:                                           Now, I have the benefit of being bold enough to know that nothing is new. It's that meme that went around for a while that everything is a remix. And I stopped looked at design as the next project is going to be my next magnum opus. I'm going to somehow wow and turn heads with this work, and it's just going to be amazing and get me known and recognized. And I started looking at it as what it is, which is it's a work that has to be delivered.

Greg Storey:                                           So, it has to, first and foremost, deliver on as much as it can, the balance between the requirements of the business and the needs of the users. That's job number one, and that's what needs to get delivered by that date. If somehow you can sprinkle some kind of creative genius on there that gets that work recognized, number one, I don't think that that's going to be the outcome from just the designer. I think that work that gets recognized comes from a team that works really well, right?

Brett Harned:                                          Yeah.

Greg Storey:                                           It's not going to come ... That's all to say the design is ... The designer is never going to be and should never look at themselves as I'm going to be the one that puts the star on this tree. And I think over time you start to learn that so that you're able to look at the work objectively and just get started, which is a huge problem for designers, is just getting a really good start that enables them to meet those deadlines first and foremost.

Greg Storey:                                           Then, the communication part is to always be communicating. And even when the client or the business leader, whomever that you're reporting to, even though they may kind of, I don't know, get annoyed at how much ... It's better to overcommunicate than not communicate enough. You know that.

Brett Harned:                                          Totally agree. Yeah.

Greg Storey:                                           It's better to have someone say, "Hey, enough. You don't need to tell me every whatever day, every week," whatever that cadence is, "I don't need you to check in. That's good." But, you have to communicate what's happening and set expectations. Because in the absence of communication, people are going to start to make their own assumptions, their own conclusions, and they're going to start making decisions based upon that information. That's bad information which leads to bad decision making.

Greg Storey:                                           I don't know how much time and money has been lost because designers weren't communicating enough, which led to bad decision making, poor decision making, which led to bad work, bad projects, just bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Communication is ... If I was to try to convey that to anybody as in the project management of one's self, you got to be able to communicate.

Brett Harned:                                          Yeah. It sounds like the way that you're kind of framing kind of the responsibility of a designer is that not only do you need to be good at your craft, to be a good designer, you have to think strategically. You have to understand the goals of the project. You have to understand everything about it so that you can do that good job. But then surrounding that, you also got to be a good communicator about the progress of the work, the way that you're getting the work done, and probably even around the feedback around that work-

Greg Storey:                                           Yes.

Brett Harned:                                          ... and how you communicate what that work is intended to do. But then you also have to be smart enough to know that you have to plan your work out so that you're meeting deadlines, you're meeting budgets, and you're getting stuff done on time.

Greg Storey:                                           Yes. And you have to communicate in a way that educates the people that are observing your work, that are responding to your work. You have to be crystal clear in what it is the work that you've done, how that relates to the end goals, how it relates to the user needs, the business needs. Again, it's like the overcommunication. You've got to cover all of your bases. Because if you miss just even one of those things, then, like I said, people are going to start to draw their own conclusions in the absence of that information.

Brett Harned:                                          That's where I think a good PM can actually help a designer.

Greg Storey:                                           Absolutely.

Brett Harned:                                          Because if you and I are working together on a project and you're really hyperfocused on nailing a design ... Let's say that you do want to make that thing that's going to complete your portfolio, right?

Greg Storey:                                           Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brett Harned:                                          I want to give you the space and time to do that and do it right so that you can please our clients, or our stakeholders, or whoever that design is being reviewed with. And in that, it's my job as the PM to ask you the questions that you probably would be thinking about, but I'm giving you the brain space to do that where I can come to you and we can have a conversation about the plan or how we're communicating or presenting that design or any of the kind of-

Greg Storey:                                           Yes.

Brett Harned:                                          ... details around it. To me, that's where the partnership really comes in and can be really strong is when a designer understands that those things are important and the PM just inherently knows that those things are important and does those things but also partners with the designer to make sure that they're both comfortable with the way that it's working out.

Greg Storey:                                           Absolutely. To add to that, I think what ... To me, a good project manager is able to interface with all sorts of people.

Brett Harned:                                          Sure.

Greg Storey:                                           That includes from a marketing director to a senior vice president of a company. And understands kind of the nuance of the business that they're working with or ... It's just the nuances of the business that they're working with. That's to say how you communicate to these different levels of people in a company.

Greg Storey:                                           I'd say that designers are not the best when it comes to presenting their own work. These are things that designers have to learn over time. And the difference between, say, an early career designer versus a senior or a lead designer is possibly ... and they've honed their skills, but it's probably because they're a better communicator. They know to present their work. They understand the business needs, user needs, all that, and how it relates to the work that they're doing. Project managers, though, where you can really help out is not to speak up for the designer, per se, but to help the designer frame their presentation, their conversation, right?

Brett Harned:                                          Absolutely.

Greg Storey:                                           And first and foremost is to ground it into what we're looking at today, how does it relate to the problem or the problems that we're trying to solve. That's a big one. I've been in design reviews where it's that real estate tour. Well, if we look at the top left, there's the logo. We've made it bigger just like you asked. Blah, blah, blah. And they just take them on a tour of the page.

Brett Harned:                                          Here's what I did, basically. Not why I-

Greg Storey:                                           Right. Exactly.

Brett Harned:                                          ... did it or what it's intended to do.

Greg Storey:                                           Yeah, exactly. What the intended outcome is supposed to be.

Brett Harned:                                          Right.

Greg Storey:                                           That is not a design review. It's not a design critique. It is what it is. It's a let me visually talk to you about the work I did or just talk at you, right?

Brett Harned:                                          Yeah.

Greg Storey:                                           A good presentation or would also be known as a critique will gather everyone in the room and remind everybody here's what we're doing today. Here's the problem that we're all collectively trying to solve. We're in this phase of the project, which in this conversation design. Here is your designer or your designers. Here's what we've been doing. Meaning last time we talked or previously on ... Then, you let people know here's what we're going to see today. Here's the type of feedback that we're looking for.

Greg Storey:                                           Then, everything else that's not ... If it's not mentioned in what we're looking for, then it's off the table. We don't care. It's not going to move the needle, so we're not going to talk about it. That helps so many people. The designer's nightmare of make the logo bigger, or my wife doesn't like the color of the buttons, or ... I could see because we're on Zoom, but you're smiling because we've received that kind of feedback.

Brett Harned:                                          Totally been there. As a project manager who has always been in creative services, so to speak, or creative digital industry, one of my favorite things was always working with a designer leading up to a presentation and then having conversations around the way that we would frame the presentation, and the way that we would actually throw out some questions to get people thinking about the design in the right context. To me, that is really the value that a PM can bring to the table. Because if you're doing a good job and you're getting to know those stakeholders, you understand your project goals, you understand what the outcome should be, you should be able to lead that conversation, and you should be able to support the designer in that presentation and even kind of get things back on track when they'll make the logo bigger, or I don't like that color of orange, even though it's in our brand guidelines, right?

Greg Storey:                                           Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brett Harned:                                          But, here's the thing I want to dig in on. When I was earlier in my career when I was at Razorfish, huge global digital agency, right? I was working with design and development teams. And pretty quickly in my tenure there, I noticed that the design team didn't really like the PMs. They didn't want the PMs around. That was a bummer for me because I came from a smaller design agency and I was very much comfortable talking about design without offending a designer. I knew how to navigate those situations. And I think that's a whole other topic to discuss.

Brett Harned:                                          But, I felt like in that situation I had to work so hard to prove that I was there to be on their side to support them, to try to help, and really not to be like, "It's all about the plan," like Mr. Robot PM. It's not just about the plan. Let's talk about things. But, obviously, this is going to be kind of like a personal thing, but I get the sense that other PMs have felt unwanted by designers or "creatives." So, what are some things that you think a PM can do to get those people more comfortable with their presence or even their role?

Greg Storey:                                           I think it goes back to something I said earlier, which is I think to let the designers off the hook a bit to remind them, "Hey, listen, here's what we're trying to get done at the end of the day." And to remind them that not every project is going to be ... How do I put this in a positive way? Design is a job. And at the end of the day, we have to deliver design that will get to the outcome that the business is trying to get to. And that's it. Again, anything else on top of that, if we somehow designed a new interface if that's possible or we're ushering in a new design trend or something if that's possible. Those are all maybe nice-to-haves, but that's not why people typically hire a studio or a company to create work. Or it's not why they hire you in an in-house group is to do award-winning work every day every time.

Greg Storey:                                           I think what the PM could do is be more of the coach and less of the time tracker. Where I've seen PMs and designers not work out is where the PM was on a daily basis coming in and saying, "What are you working on?" And if it wasn't exactly what the PM thought the designer should be working on, there was a conversation to be had. I don't think that's just a designer thing or a PM thing. Just nobody likes to be micromanaged.

Greg Storey:                                           I think too in those situations, the PM, neither side was performing any kind of what I would consider empathy exercise. The PM wasn't really trying to understand why design could be difficult. Why when you're starting, to some degree, at a blank page ... You may have brand standards, you may have wireframes, but you're still trying to think of ... Potentially, there may be som creative asks of the designer. Especially in the beginning, sometimes it just takes poking stuff around to see how it's going to fit, right?

Brett Harned:                                          Yep.

Greg Storey:                                           To some degree, if you think of the web, we're all putting together LEGO kits, but we don't have the book just yet in the beginning. We got all the pieces and everything. We're just trying to see where it goes. Then, once you've got a couple different patterns, once the design starts to emerge, then it kind of almost goes on autopilot and can go very quickly. But, that beginning time can go very stressful, and I've seen where just the conversation between a PM and a designer can go way, way, way wrong when it comes to some type of micromanagey conversation or reminding them of time, just kind of being ... Kind of like an aunt, like a ream bad ... The aunt that you don't want coming over and reminding you of all your imperfections.

Brett Harned:                                          Yeah.

Greg Storey:                                           [crosstalk 00:24:37].

Brett Harned:                                          PMs can be good at that sometimes, unfortunately, right?

Greg Storey:                                           Yeah. And sometimes you have to, but I think that's where, again, in the beginning, even before the work begins, is where the PM can sit down with not just the designer but the entire team and what are we trying to do here and even talk about, hey, when we get into design, what are some things that push your buttons, and share. Go around the room. When we're in design, what do you stress about? And kind of give everybody a chance to share that and then talk about, okay, how do we prevent that from happening.

Greg Storey:                                           It's a time investment, but it's so worthwhile just to do a simple exercise in understanding to develop empathy for each person just to understand like, "Hey, please don't do that." And if I'm doing that, here's how I'd prefer to be interacted with to counter that problem. Talk about it upfront, not in the moment. Or especially you don't want to have to learn that stuff after you've started a fight. That requires more time and more emotion.

Brett Harned:                                          Oh, yeah.

Greg Storey:                                           Everybody's [crosstalk 00:25:54]-

Brett Harned:                                          And it's hard to recover from, right?

Greg Storey:                                           Yeah.

Brett Harned:                                          Not just for the two people or three people involved, but it affects everyone. It's cool. I think what you're really talking about is that projects require partnerships. And those partnerships can even be on the one-on-one level. If you have a good relationship with the people that you work with, then work just comes easier.

Greg Storey:                                           Yes.

Brett Harned:                                          If there's mutual respect, and there's empathy, and just a general understanding, your workplace, your project environment, whatever it is, is going to feel better. And I think everyone wants that. So, it kind of reminds me. I listen to your talk about the relationship between product managers and design, which we'll share the link to that in the show notes. It's on a YouTube video. I also read your thoughts. There was a document that you shared that really kind of summarized a lot of it. I think it's in your slides.

Brett Harned:                                          There was a quote in there that kind of stuck out to me. It was, "I'm always amazed at how little each function knows about the work and responsibilities of the other team members they depend on." That stuck out to me because I think it's true all around. Even if I think about other teams that I've worked on, even not as a project manager, we're just so rushed in our daily lives. Things are rushed. Projects are rushed. Budgets are limited. And you really don't take the time to stop and talk about that stuff. So, it sounds like what you were just saying is take the time to get that stuff out in the open and maybe that should be a part of that conversation as well. What do you think?

Greg Storey:                                           Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I've seen evidence of this. And I've been on teams where we recognized, hey, let's talk about ... One of the exercises that I like to do is let's talk about how we're going to make this work. How are we going to make this project just fly? It's going to be great. Everybody's having fun. And the ideas just come out. In that time box, you don't spend a lot of time. You spend like maybe two or three minutes ideating with everybody writing things down, a couple minutes sharing what those ideas are, and even as a group maybe even voting on, hey, let's actually try some of these things.

Greg Storey:                                           Then, the next idea is ... Or the next exercise is, what is the worst ... And I call it the atomic outcomes. What is the thing that would just blow this project up, like just send it off the rails, just make it the worst project possible? We spend a minute doing that. Not as much time. Maybe even 30 seconds. I look at that as these are the outcomes now that we're trying to avoid. Now, how do we make sure that that never happens? And you spend-

Brett Harned:                                          And you can do that on a level that's not just about the work, too. It could be about the way that you collaborate and work together. It can be about process as well.

Greg Storey:                                           Yep. Absolutely. Basically, how do we sabotage this thing? Come up with even maniacal ways to do that. That could be kind of fun, even some silly things. But then say, "All right, how do we make sure that time bomb never goes off or the train never leaves the track?" or whatever metaphor you want to use. Just how do you prevent that from happening. To me, what comes out of that are people saying, even volunteering, "Well, we probably should have a daily standup," or, "We need to be making sure that we've got executive coverage and that that we're informing them of the work.

Greg Storey:                                           That's one way, is you say to talk about it, but there's some exercises, again, grounded in design thinking that can take just ... You can do this in literally like 10 to 15 minutes depending on the team size. Doesn't mean you got to take half a day and go offsite or anything like that. But, a good 30 minutes invested in this is going to save you ... It's like the butterfly effect. It's almost as if you don't do this, then the deeper you get into the project, the more that going back to zero would be an absolute disaster, the bigger the impact the problems are going to be later on.

Brett Harned:                                          I also tend to think it's okay to spend a little extra time on that stuff at the beginning of the project, especially if you're working with all new team members, people you never have worked with before-

Greg Storey:                                           Oh, yes.

Brett Harned:                                          ... or even it's been a while, right?

Greg Storey:                                           Yep.

Brett Harned:                                          My thinking, and this is across the board with everything related to project management, the investment in time that you spend early on in a project could feel big. It could feel like it's a lot of time or even too much time. But, I always think that's time well spent because you're working out details. You're building relationships. You're building trust. You're basically doing everything that you can to ensure that your project's going to stay on track, your communications are going to be good, your relationships stay intact, and everyone's kind of moving in the right direction. So, I appreciate that.

Greg Storey:                                           Absolutely. Plus one. 100%.

Brett Harned:                                          Awesome.

Greg Storey:                                           All the things. Another thing is show me, don't tell me. That's something I learned at IBM. In other words, let's not talk about this. And that doesn't mean that every problem has to be sketched out, but let's look at what's happening, not just talk about what's happening, right?

Brett Harned:                                          Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Greg Storey:                                           Last thing is, and this gets a little bit into management technique, but is to look at your process right in the beginning, in all the different phases, all the different kind of key moments, milestones, whatever you want to call them, and assign a ... Use a RACI matrix where you're assigning who's responsible, who's accountable, who needs to be consulted for the work to go through, and who needs to be informed.

Brett Harned:                                          Speaking my language.

Greg Storey:                                           Yeah. And you do that from start to even post-deliver, the postmortem. Who's responsible for that? Who's accountable? And along the way, you map that out so that everybody now has got the same map that when you move, say, from research to design, design to development, development to deployment or Q&A, whatever those stages are, the responsibility and the accountability is likely going to change, right?

Brett Harned:                                          Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Greg Storey:                                           Well, all of it changes. It kind of fluctuates. But, document that stuff early on at the beginning just so that everybody's got at least that, right?

Brett Harned:                                          Absolutely.

Greg Storey:                                           If don't do anything else, at least map out what the RACI is for the project.

Brett Harned:                                          Set those expectations. If anyone's interested in that, we actually have a blog post and a template for a RACI matrix. I did a little video on those a few weeks back, too. So, we'll put those in the show notes. So Greg, we're talking about time limits. We are almost at time. I have one question for you. Just, we wrap up every show with a question that's kind of nodding to the title of the show, which is Time Limit. We're always busy. We're limited on time and sometimes even resources in some organizations. I want to give you a kind of hyperspecific situation and see what your thoughts are on it.

Brett Harned:                                          Let's say I'm working as a PM with a design team who are really focused on a project. But as the PM, I'm managing seven or eight other projects and teams. What's the one thing that I should be doing on that project with those designers to make sure that those people know that I do care about the project, I care about them, I'm paying attention to things, and I do value the work that they're doing, even though it might feel like I'm not there as much?

Greg Storey:                                           One, I feel for you. It's just seven projects, I mean, that's a lot.

Brett Harned:                                          It happens. It's crazy how many projects PMs have to take on. I've heard upwards of 20.

Greg Storey:                                           Oh, my gosh.

Brett Harned:                                          Yeah.

Greg Storey:                                           If you're those people, my heart goes out to you. It genuinely does. Man. Anyway, I'd say set up time perhaps on a monthly basis where you're just meeting with the designers across all those teams and ask them ... Give them a little bit of an open mic. Maybe it's an exercise where you're facilitating, but let them know that you care and that that time is there to talk about, "Hey, what's going good across projects as it pertains to design? And what do we need to work on probably as a company, as a design practice from a project management point of view?"

Greg Storey:                                           It could be that you're having success in one project, not so much on another. Maybe to have that conversation as it pertains to the practice of design and the relationship between design and project management, try to figure out ... Just give people time to kind of work those things out.

Greg Storey:                                           Then, to also, just as you would in a one-on-one, or if you're in a leadership role, is ask them what ... Do you have everything you need to succeed? I'd also open it up to questions about the practice of project management. You also might even have themes of just trying to help them. Depending on where your team is in their maturity, you also may be a little bit more programmatic in saying, "Hey, this session we're going to talk about presenting your work to an executive. What are some dos and don'ts-"

Brett Harned:                                          Sure.

Greg Storey:                                           "... in that kind of situation." How to even craft an email. I mean, don't assume that ... And I think we do this too much. I know we do this too much. I don't think. I know we do this too much. It's just we're human. But, I think we tend to assume that if I can do this this way and at this level, at this quality, that everybody should be able to do it like me. So even down to the emails. I know designers who have been terrified. They can knock out design left and right. Ask them to write an email to an executive asking them to review the work with a link. Two hours later and they're still not done. You know what I mean? And you know. That's why you're laughing, right?

Greg Storey:                                           I think two is teach. Help them unlock those non-designer skills, the soft skills that ... Good PMs have soft skills. Not everybody else has good soft skills necessarily. Help designers understand what those are and how that works into their career, right?

Brett Harned:                                          Yeah.

Greg Storey:                                           Not the work, but just as like a here's ... Let me help build you as a designer in your career path. Let me build you up with some things that I have learned from my practice of project management.

Brett Harned:                                          I love that. I think vice versa is that goes for that same situation, right? It's sitting down with a designer and understanding why is make the logo bigger a bad comment or ... I really like the way that you answered that question because it does come back to kind of the theme of this whole conversation, which is really about the partnership between design and project management and how really good communication and some simple tactics can make it really strong. So, thank you for that.

Greg Storey:                                           Goes a long way. The last thing I'll say with all this is, along that theme, it's not a one-and-done. And that along the way, you need check-ins to say, "Hey, are we still good? Is this still working?" I'm in the process of reviewing my company's processes for everything that we do. In fact, in a couple hours, we're going to start mapping out what it looks like today? Then, a week from now we'll map out what it looks like tomorrow, the new process we want to build. Then, from that date, we're going to have quarterly check-ins that are going to be automatic. It doesn't matter what we're doing. You got to drop-

Brett Harned:                                          Cool.

Greg Storey:                                           ... what you're doing so we can check in and see how is this working. So that if we need to pivot, if we need to make some changes, we've got that time set aside to make sure that we're doing that instead of still trying to push a boulder uphill when there might be a better path downhill.

Brett Harned:                                          Just having an active conversation about it will keep it top of mind and have people working on it.

Greg Storey:                                           Yeah. Speaking of designers, and if you were to program that on their calendar, I think most of them would appreciate that you care enough to understand if things are working or not that you would care enough to think ahead in that way.

Brett Harned:                                          Absolutely. Well, Greg, thank you so much for joining me today. I feel like we could probably talk for three more hours about this. And maybe we'll find opportunities to do that some time in the near future. But, thanks again for joining me. Really appreciate it.

Greg Storey:                                           Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Brett Harned:                                          All right, folks. I'm sorry I had to cut that conversation off. I always do a fair amount of prep for these interviews, and I have to say I had a few topics that I couldn't even get to in this one. But, I think the moral of the story here is that developing trust and solid working relationships that's based on mutual respect and understanding will just make your work better. Of course there's more to it, but maybe I'll be able to convince Greg to come back on the show sometime soon.

Brett Harned:                                          Hey, on that note, if you like this episode and you're interested in this kind of working with specific roles topic, let me know. I'd love to hear more about what you want to hear about or even guests. And for that matter, always feel free to reach out about possible topics and episodes. You can always reach me at brett@teamgantt.com. And be sure to check out the show notes over at TeamGantt.com/podcast. And please subscribe to the show wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you're so inclined, maybe even write a review. I don't know. Or even just a thumbs up would help. All right. So, I'll leave you with that. Thanks again for listening.

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