#69 - The Relevance of Project Management in Tech Today - Jana Axline

 

 

“Successful project managers have a bias for action. They’re out there pushing the project forward all the time and doing all the things that need to be done to make the project successful."

Jana Axline is the founder and Managing Director of Project Genetics, with over 20 years of experience in leadership, project, and portfolio management. In this episode, we discussed in-depth about the important role of project management. Jana explained how project management is still much relevant in the current era of agile and “project to product” movement within the tech industry. She outlined the important skill set required to become an effective project manager, how a project manager can earn much respect from the team, and pointed out some of the common project management anti-patterns we should avoid. She also gave her practical advice on how to do effective status report and project escalation. Towards the end, Jana gave her insightful perspectives based on her vast experience of why IT projects tend to have a high failure rate.  

Listen out for:

  • Career Journey - [00:06:05]
  • Relevance of Project Management - [00:07:30]
  • Project to Product Movement - [00:12:26]
  • Skills of an Effective Project Manager - [00:14:41]
  • Purpose vs Checklist - [00:18:23]
  • Leaders vs Coordinator - [00:19:29]
  • Earning the Respect - [00:21:20]
  • Project Management Anti-Patterns - [00:23:26]
  • Status Report - [00:26:54]
  • Escalation - [00:29:36]
  • Project Management Tools - [00:32:32]
  • Tips for Project Management Career - [00:35:08]
  • Tech Projects Failure - [00:37:59]
  • 3 Tech Lead Wisdom - [00:40:31]

_____

Jana Axline’s Bio
Jana Axline is the founder and the Managing Director of Project Genetics. A focused leader and project manager, her expertise stems from more than 20 years of experience in leadership and almost ten years in project and portfolio management in many industries such as Health Insurance, Healthcare, Financial Services, Mining, Retail, Government, FMCG and Supply Chain Management. Jana was also the past president of the Project Management Institute Mile High Chapter. She speaks internationally on project management, employee engagement and leadership. She is an active PMP, ACP, Scrum Master, and Scaled Agilist and holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Colorado.

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Quotes

Relevance of Project Management

  • What Agile does is they talk about the gulf of evaluation where the end user describes something, and then the technologist hears it differently. They think they both have a common understanding, but then when the product gets created, they find out that there was a gulf of understanding.

  • Agile by doing iterations and bringing the end user into the development process reduces the risk of building the wrong thing.

  • Project management is still important, though. Because what I find is when you start scaling Agile, what you end up having is like this black box. The black box is where you get your user stories that you build on, and then you split the user stories out into a product. But there’s nothing that’s coordinating the pieces that are on either side of it.

  • Project management can work within the Agile world, but they sit over top of it. You let the Agile teams operate in the way they need to, but the project manager is over the top, making sure that all the other pieces that feed into that team or come out of that team are being effectively managed.

  • And the other thing is the trap that some people fall in when they say they’re doing Agile is they quit planning ahead. You’re still supposed to have some level of planning, and you should be estimating your epics, and you should have a general idea or a hope where things will fall. And that’s really what a project manager’s job is, is to be really forward thinking.

  • A program just means a collection of projects. So a project has a defined scope that has a beginning and an end, and a program brings together projects that relate to each other.

  • A program is bigger than a project. You may not need a project manager. You may need a program manager who’s managing multiple Scrum teams. That’s fine. But if you have multiple projects, I guess somebody’s got to be looking at how are we getting from where the project supposed to start to where it ends.

  • Could that role be taken on by somebody else? Absolutely. The problem or the challenge is, I’ve worked in places where the product manager or the tech lead acted in the project management role, and what I’ve seen, and this isn’t going to be true across the board, but the risk that companies face is that the skill sets aren’t the same.

    • A tech lead is very focused on what is the technical solution. Is it viable? Is it sustainable? And so they are not really caring about a budget that much. They don’t care about all the risks and issues, being able to look up and look out. They’re looking down at the technology or looking at the road that the technology is on, but they’re not coming up above that and seeing the whole picture.

    • With product managers, some of them are good. They can be project managers as well. But some of them have so much to be managing and the relationship with the customers and managing market research and voice of the customer and all of that. Again, doing a project schedule and maintaining risks and issues and all of that just isn’t where their skill set lies.

Project to Product Movement

  • I think they’re both still important and here’s why. Your product has a product life cycle. You’ve come up with your idea. You’ve developed it. You put it out in the market, and then it matures, and hopefully it doesn’t die away, but potentially does. So a product manager should be managing all of that. What does the customer need? How are we going to iterate this product? How are we going to keep it in demand?

  • A project manager is focused on a specific outcome at that moment. They’re not looking into what’s the next iteration of the phone going to be. That’s the product manager’s job. Theirs is to take the vision of the product manager for this point in time and make it a reality for them.

Skills of an Effective Project Manager

  • That’s actually one of the challenges that companies end up facing. They focus on the technical skill, the hard skills of project management. Meaning, do you know how to use MS Project or JIRA or whatever the solution is going to be? Do you know how to write a schedule? Do you know how to do dependencies? Do you know what risks are, issues are? How to document them?

  • Everything that gets taught to us in a project management class or PMBOK; that’s the foundation. That’s the bare minimum of what you need to be a project manager. But to be a successful project manager, I really think it comes more around those soft skills.

  • A project manager, I often like to view them as the conductor of an orchestra, where each section of the orchestra has their instrument and their expertise. The violinist, they know the violin. The flutist, they know how to play the flute. They’re experts in that. But the conductor is there to bring people in at the right time. Cause some of these have different tempos that they’re moving at. So how do you bring everybody in at the right time, at the right speed, to create a beautiful piece of music?

  • Some of that is around facilitation and communication. How do you bring the right people into the room? The problem that you need to get solved. When the team gets stuck, what do you do to help them move past whatever is getting them stuck?

  • Problem solving is a huge component of effective project management. And it doesn’t mean that I have to go and solve all the problems as a project manager. Like I may not be able to go solve a database problem, but I need to go make sure I’m pulling all the pieces together so the problem can be solved.

  • One of the other things I see is that project managers really have a bias for action, or at least the successful ones do.

    • Meaning, you don’t just sit there, wait and see, and let the team come to you or whatever. You’re out there pushing the project forward all the time. Because if you just let the project sit, it’ll probably atrophy. There’s not going to be any momentum to keep that project moving forward.

    • Because people have other competing priorities. So something has to be pushing that effort forward, and a project manager can play a part of that, by having a bias for action and really doing all the things that need to be done to make the project successful.

  • The other thing that I see where companies get into problems is when they don’t have effective escalation, or where a project manager doesn’t know how to effectively escalate.

    • They don’t let people know when there’s a problem on the project soon enough, so that the problem can be solved. There should be escalation happening and communication either to stakeholders, to sponsors, whomever has the power to bring more resources in. It doesn’t have to be people, but like whether it’s knowledge or whatever, but bring whatever pieces we need to resolve the issue.

    • Project managers can’t be fearful. They have to have a lot of courage. They have to have courage to speak the truth in the interest of the project.

Purpose vs Checklist

  • That’s another thing that Agile is a big proponent of, is bringing that vision and ensuring everybody understands the vision of what the project is. Or what that sprint is. What the epic is. All the way up. Because if we understand what the end state is going to be, we can figure out if we’re not on track.

  • If I, as a project manager just has a checklist that I’m working out of, I know if we’re on track or off track to the checklist, but don’t know if we’re on track or off track to what the objectives of the project is, or the vision of the project.

Leaders vs Coordinator

  • If you have a project coordinator, all they’re doing is taking minutes, recording risks and issues, updating the schedule, very administrative. I mean, a project manager is out there championing for the success of the project. They’re out ensuring that all the stakeholders are engaged, that the sponsor has what they need, that we’re on track to getting the outcomes that the sponsor expects, facilitating the team.

  • My job as a project manager is to keep people focused on what success looks like rather than where we’ve been. So I think that interpersonal relationship ability is extremely important for a project manager.

Earning the Respect

  • Some of the key things to do are: one, take time to build relationships. And two, always treat people with respect. Just because I need to drive something forward, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be listening to people, hearing their concerns, getting that feedback and incorporating their feedback. That’s really important for a project manager to do because then the team will work for you.

  • I’m not looking to be liked. But I’m looking for people to respect me so that I can “lead them”. But I do that through how I treat them.

Project Management Anti-Patterns

  • The one that comes to mind is crisis mentality. I can’t tell you how many times I go into an organization and everything is a crisis. Unless it’s involving the life of a person, or I guess, a mortality event for the company, it’s not a crisis. A crisis is driven by a perceived shortage of time. We need to assess what’s driving that shortage of time, and really put things into perspective. To me, that I think is an important thing to do.

  • On a project where a status report becomes a crisis, somebody needs to be brave enough to tell leadership that we’re dealing with something more important, and they’ll get their status report in a day. We need to be respectful and say when it’s going to happen.

  • The other thing is, things become a crisis because people don’t ask questions. Rather than asking the questions of “By when do they need it exactly? How much information do they need? Does it need to be perfect and refined or can it be just rough because I’ve got these things going on? Oh, and by the way, is it this high in priority? Here’s all the other priorities I’m working on today. Do you really feel like this is that high in priority or should we find someone else to do it?”, we just do it because the fear of, “Oh my goodness, so-and-so is asking for it”, rather than asking a lot of questions.

  • The other thing I see project managers do is there’s this balance with project management of getting into the weeds and really looking at the details, but then lifting your head up and looking at their horizon.

Status Report

  • Status reports are important. But I think there’s a lot we can do with AI to reduce the impact that it has. As an executive, you need to know what’s driving your strategy forward. So, your projects are part of that strategy, and you need to know, are the projects getting done, where are they at, especially if there’s market commitments around them. Status is critically important. But I think, where leaders need to rethink, is not always asking for things in 20 different ways.

  • We need to do more with automation,. So how do we pull together the tools, whether it’s JIRA, Microsoft, whatever that the project team is doing, and make it a one-stop shop for all the information that’s needed.

  • How do we make sure that the budget’s tied in? How do we make sure there’s a repository for risks and issues? Then all that data gets pulled together, and then served up whether it be through BI or dashboard where people know what’s going on for the whole project.

  • We need to be using AI to pull the data from wherever these things get listed and tracked, and serve it up so that all the project manager might have to do them is once a week. Tie it all together in a summary. Two or three lines that summarize the state of things, but then all the data is just automatically served up.

Escalation

  • There’re two factors to that.

    • One, you’ve got a problem where the project manager needs to make sure they understand when things need to be escalating, so that we’re only escalating appropriate things. So that goes back to being a leader.

    • But the other problem that can happen is that a lot of escalations can be a sign that your project manager isn’t leading the project. So if everything gets to the point that it’s an escalation, it means that we’re not doing the things that need to happen before that.

  • The only thing that should be getting to the executives is when the project team doesn’t have the resources they need to solve the problem. If all the resources there, they should be solving the problem themselves. The project manager should be facilitating and helping the team get to the solution.

  • Anytime you’re going to get off of scope, schedule or budget. But it’s how you do it that’s important.

  • The term escalate very much sounds like we’re putting something forth that is a crisis, or it’s an emergency, and we don’t want to do that. What we do want to do, though, is make sure that we have awareness because if we don’t make sure that there’s awareness, it’s going to turn into a crisis.

  • I think the communication needs to be there as soon as the project is off track within some sort of tolerance, 5-10% tolerance, depending on the risk tolerance of the organization. It should be communicated.

  • It shouldn’t be truly escalated as in “I need your intervention is when you’re off track with no plan to get back on track”. And we use colors for that. So if you’re off track, but you have a plan, a viable plan that will get you on track, we call it yellow. But if you’re off track, and you don’t have a viable plan to get you back on track, that’s red.

  • But the executives need to know about it while it’s yellow. Because if they get surprised, there’s going to be a whole bunch of, “Well, how did we get here?” You know, things that waste time, because now they have to be caught up to where we are.

Project Management Tools

  • I think the color coding for the various areas of a project gives people a way to see things at a glance. I think just having really clear and concise status reporting is important.

  • I think you’ve got to have tools that fit the project. One of the things I see that I go into organizations and they’ve got tools. They have project managers, but the tools are more for everybody else.

  • Companies need to really, when they’re selecting technology tools, look at what’s our objective and which tools, whether it’s one or a combination of it is going to get us to that extract of, and don’t be afraid to go with two tools or something and do integration.

  • On the other side, I really think the base things of the project management discipline are important. What’s our risk register? What’s our issues register? Where are we recording decisions? Do we have a project schedule? Do we have a budget that we’re at least tracking on a monthly basis that’s accurate? And then, we have our status reporting.

  • I don’t think you should overkill it. Things need to be simple enough that people will actually use them, but complex enough that it’s reaching the objective of why it exists.

Tips for Project Management Career

  • One thing to understand is project management is in every industry. It’s really great if you can figure out, “Hey, I’m good at this project management discipline, but what else am I also interested in?”

  • Figuring out where your interest is in, as well from functional industry, knowing that then I can go apply this project management discipline. It’ll be great for you because then you’re passionate about project management and then you’re passionate about the field that you’re working in within project management.

  • The other thing I think is really important, I highly value volunteering. That’s great because it connects you to where people are looking for project managers. One, you get to show your competency to these people, and then once they trust your ability, they can connect you to where the opportunity might lie.

  • And then the third thing I’d say is just diversification. What complimentary skills can you get that will help augment your ability? Whether it’s Agile certifications or go get a product management certification or go study architecture.

Tech Projects Failure

  • I think there’re a lot of reasons and that’s why you have to go into each project and really assess it. But some of the things go back to that gulf of evaluation that I mentioned, so building the wrong product. If it’s a huge thing we’re trying to bite off and do, we still might get to the end and be off track because the marketplace changed.

  • One is making sure we really understand what we’re trying to do and why. Two, chunking it up small enough that we’re putting value out into the market, or putting value into the organization to be used in small chunks, six months, three months, whatever it is. So that if the business changes direction, the project could pivot as well.

  • Then the two other things that I think play a huge factor into it are that organizations take on too much as a whole. Therefore, there becomes conflicting priorities. As an organization, having only two or three enterprise projects, if you tell some of these people, they would freak out, “What do you mean we can only work on three projects?” I think it’s important because you’ll get them done faster. The organization needs to focus on getting them done quicker, and get them right, and then move on to the next thing.

  • And then the final thing is I think companies just underestimate and understaff projects. They really aren’t realistic about what it’s going to take to get it done. If we put that focus on it, we commit our resources, both people resources and economic resources to a small pool of projects and get it done, I think they’d even find they’d save money over time. Money in the time that people spent, but also just money and reducing waste and redo, rework.

3 Tech Lead Wisdom

  1. Always be growing.

    • That really is the key. We can always be looking at how to do things better. I think that growth mindset and a focus on growth is extremely important.
  2. Soft skills are really important and they need a lot of attention.

    • In order to succeed in the world, which tech is part of the broader world, is those soft skills are really important and they need a lot of attention. Around how do we communicate more effectively? And how do we really work on our team dynamics and improve that?
  3. Having some sort of vision for your life and your career

    • It doesn’t mean you have to know all the steps to get there, but really when you look back on your life, what do you want to have achieved? What do you want your life to look like?

    • Whatever those things are, really think about what you’re after, and then just make sure that all the opportunities that you take are moving you towards that.

Transcript

[00:01:06] Episode Introduction

[00:01:06] Henry Suryawirawan: Hello to all of you, my friends and listeners. Hope that you’re feeling awesome and happy today. Welcome to another a new episode of the Tech Lead Journal podcast. Thank you for tuning in and listening to this episode. If you’re new to Tech Lead Journal, I invite you to subscribe and follow the show on your podcast app and our growing social media communities on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you have been regularly listening and enjoying this podcast and love the type of content that I’m producing, will you support the show by subscribing as a patron at techleadjournal.dev/patron, and support my journey to produce great episode every week.

Project management historically has been around for quite a long time. According to Wikipedia, in the 1950s, project management became recognized as a distinct discipline arising from the management discipline. Since then, project management has become one of the most critical disciplines required in any type of industry, including the tech industry. Recent movement of agile methodology and the “project to product” movement seem to cast away the art of project management, especially in the tech industry. Project manager as a role also seems gradually shifting more towards Scrum Master or Product Manager. Could this lead to a less prominent need for project management?

Armed with this question, I tried to seek the answer from my guest for today’s episode, Jana Axline. Jana is the founder and Managing Director of Project Genetics, with over 20 years of experience in leadership, project, and portfolio management.

In this episode, we discussed in-depth about the important role of project management. Jana explained how project management is still much relevant in the current era of agile and “project to product” movement within the tech industry. She outlined the important skillset required to become an effective project manager, how project managers can earn much respect from the team and the people they work with, and she also pointed out some of the common project management anti-patterns that we should avoid. Jana also gave her practical advice on how we can do effective status report and project escalation. Given the importance of both status report and escalation, they should not be much dreaded in the day to day of project management. Towards the end, Jana gave her insightful perspectives based on her vast experience of why IT projects tend to still have a high failure rate.

I really enjoyed my conversation with Jana, learning my ropes about project management and how to be an effective project manager. And I personally find that the role is still pretty much critical and relevant in the current tech industry. I can give high testament in some of my recent work in my career that really benefited a lot from having a strong project manager that drove the success of the projects. If you also enjoy and find this episode useful, I encourage you to share it to someone you know who would also benefit from it. You can also leave a rating and review on your podcast app or share some comments on the social media, on what you enjoy from this episode. I always love reading your reviews and comments, and they are one of the best ways to help me spread this podcast to more people. And it is my hope they can also benefit from this podcast. Let’s get our episodes started right after our sponsor message.

[00:05:07] Introduction

[00:05:07] Henry Suryawirawan: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to a new episode of the Tech Lead Journal podcast. Today with me, I have Jana Axline. She’s actually the Managing Director and, I believe also the founder of the company called Project Genetics. She’s actually expert in project management. In fact, Project Genetics is all about helping customers and people to execute projects successfully, deliver outcomes. And also, she interestingly has worked in multiple industries before, like health insurance, healthcare, financial services, mining, retail, government, and so many other areas. She was also a past president of the Project Management Institute Mile High Chapter, speaks internationally on project management, employee management and leadership. She’s also an active PMP, Scrum Master, Agilist, and so many other things. I think it speaks a lot of credibility of profile Jana has. So thanks Jana for coming to the show. Looking forward to talk a lot about project management today.

[00:06:04] Jana Axline: Yeah. Thank you for having me, Henry.

[00:06:05] Career Journey

[00:06:05] Henry Suryawirawan: So Jana, in the beginning maybe you can introduce yourself, telling us more about your career highlights or maybe some turning points that you want to share with us.

[00:06:14] Jana Axline: Sure. Well, you know, when I started out of university, I had a lot of jobs. Everything from catching shoplifters to making TV commercials, to working at a law firm. I was really struggling finding something I enjoyed and was connected to. And so then in my MBA, I took a project management course, which I had never heard of before. But it was during that course that I realised this is the perfect career for me. Like this career must have been made just for me. So I jumped into volunteering at the Project Management Institute and building connections because I didn’t have a career at that point in project management, and so needed to build a network if I wanted to ever be able to move into it. So I did that. Fast forward a couple of years, got my first project management job, and I was right. I did love it. It was perfect. As I was sitting there, a few years into my first role, which is at CIGNA healthcare, I’ve always had a dream to be a CEO. I was listening to the CEO of CIGNA speak and I was like, what makes him such a great CEO is his passion about healthcare. Well, I’m not passionate about healthcare. What can I be the CEO of? And so that’s when I decided to break out and start a project delivery consulting company.

[00:07:21] Henry Suryawirawan: Thanks for sharing your story. It’s very interesting. So your dream to become CEO is not something about in a particular industry, but actually now it’s helping people to deliver projects.

[00:07:30] Relevance of Project Management

[00:07:30] Henry Suryawirawan: Speaking about project management, I personally feel that probably it’s kind of like a lost art in some ways or the other. You know, in recent industry trends, people are moving more towards Agile, Agile project management, Agile methodology. And a lot of people actually think that, maybe it should not be called project anymore. Maybe there’s no even like a project manager role in this Agile, Scrum kind of a formation. So what do you think about all this change? Maybe you can have a little bit of perspective. Is project management a dying art?

[00:08:01] Jana Axline: Absolutely not. I love Agile. I love Scrum. I am a Scrum Master, and really what Agile does is they talk about the gulf of evaluation where the end user describes something, and then the technologist hears it differently. They think they both have a common understanding, but then when the product gets created, they find out that there was a gulf of understanding. So Agile by doing iterations and bringing the end user into the development process, reduces the risk in building the wrong thing. Love Agile.

Project management is still important, though. Because what I find is when you start scaling Agile, what you end up having is like this black box. The black box is where you get your user stories that you build on, and then you split the user stories out into a product. But there’s nothing that’s coordinating the pieces that are on either side of it. So who’s out there really understanding what the market’s needing, and coordinating all the activities around that analysis, and around the strategy, before we get into the black box, that is Scrum? And then who’s on the back side, making sure that we’ve done everything that needs to ensure that this product can go to market, or that we can release this new website or whatever the case may be? Who’s made sure that we’ve talked to legal, and that we’ve talked to the marketing team, and then we’ve done all of these things? You know, I think project management can work within the Agile world, but they sit over top of it. You let the Agile teams operate in the way they need to, but the project manager is over the top, making sure that all the other pieces that feed into that team or come out of that team are being effectively managed. So I think that’s one piece.

And the other thing is the trap that some people fall in when they say they’re doing Agile is they quit planning ahead. Cause they’re like, oh, well, we don’t know what’s in the next sprint. Well, you’re still supposed to have some level of planning, and you should be estimating your epics, and you should have a general idea or a hope where things will fall. And that’s really what a project manager’s job is, is to be really forward thinking. Sometimes, you get these companies who’ve implemented Agile and they’ve become way too narrow down into just what are we doing today, or this sprint. So, that’s the other place where I think project management is still relevant.

[00:10:06] Henry Suryawirawan: Hearing from what you described just now, it seems like to me, these days, people call it program instead of project. And then since, you know, in any Agile team, there’s no so-called role as a project manager. So what do you think that people these days, in terms of team formation, should create as a team? Is it something that someone who can help them to program manage multiple Agile teams? Or is it like a specific role inside a team? Be it a product manager or maybe some other team members who can actually play this role. So what do you think about all these?

[00:10:38] Jana Axline: Well, so a couple of things. A program just means a collection of projects. So a project has a defined scope that has a beginning and an end, and a program brings together projects that relate to each other. So, for instance, you may be doing a digital transformation in your company. There could be an ERP project, and there could be a sales project, and there could be a data analytics project. And all of those things become the program, the digital transformation program. So program is bigger than a project. You may not need a project manager. You may need a program manager who’s managing multiple Scrum teams. That’s fine. But if you have multiple projects, I guess somebody’s got to be looking at how are we getting from where the project supposed to start to where it ends. Then you ask, “Well, could that role be taken on by somebody else?” Absolutely. The problem is, or the challenge is I’ve worked in places where the product manager or the tech lead acted in the project management role, and what I’ve seen, and this isn’t going to be true across the board, but the risk that companies face is that the skill sets aren’t the same.

So a tech lead is very focused on what is the technical solution. Is it viable? Is it sustainable? And so they are not really caring about budget that much. They don’t care about all the risks and issues, being able to look up and look out, right? They’re looking down at the technology or looking at the road that the technology is on, but they’re not coming up above that and seeing the whole picture. And then same with product managers. What I find with product managers, some of them are good. They can be project managers as well. But some of them have so much to be managing and the relationship with the customers and managing market research and voice of the customer and all of that. Again, doing a project schedule and maintaining risks and issues and all of that just isn’t where their skill set lies.

[00:12:26] Project to Product Movement

[00:12:26] Henry Suryawirawan: So also I think one of the latest movement in the technology world, at least as well, people say you should move away from project into products. This is kind of like a dilemma now, right? We have been talking a lot about project manager. What do you think about this movement? What is the underlying reason behind it? Where does project manager actually fit behind all this project to product movement?

[00:12:46] Jana Axline: Well, I don’t know, I guess, where the history of product management started. But I think they’re both still important and here’s why. Your product has a product life cycle. You’ve come up with your idea. You’ve developed it. You put it out in the market, and then it matures, and hopefully it doesn’t die away, but potentially does. So a product manager should be managing all of that. What does the customer need? How are we going to iterate this product? How are we going to keep it in demand? Like, maybe there’s a product manager, say, for the iPhone, right? So what are we going to do next for the iPhone? Well, a project manager is focused on a specific outcome at that moment. They’re not looking into what’s the next iteration of the phone going to be? That’s the product manager’s job. Their is to take the vision of the product manager for this point in time and make it reality for them.

So I think they go hand-in-hand. Because if the product manager’s like, “Alright, we’re going to hit a release date of September. Here’s the scope of what that is”. Well, now the project manager is going to go out there and coordinate all the activities that have to happen in order to make that release date. And while they’re doing that, the product manager can be thinking further out ahead of, okay, well, what’s the next thing I’m going to do? How am I going to get feedback on this release? How am I going to make sure that we stay ahead of our competitors, etc? So I think they go hand-in-hand.

[00:14:00] Henry Suryawirawan: I also see it in my own real career is that sometimes, yeah, we do need this kind of role, project manager. Like you mentioned, the skill set is actually different, right? Someone who is coordinating. Someone who is planning, looking ahead, managing stakeholders. Especially if we have multiple third parties involved as well. So product managers sometimes may not be able to execute all these, and that’s why we probably need a project manager inside. I think like what you mentioned, in a product life cycle, we do have milestones when we want to achieve a certain goal, so to speak. So yeah, some product manager probably could play that role. But sometimes when the product is probably slightly complex, more integrations, for example, I think this is where project manager probably can fit in and help the team to execute properly.

[00:14:41] Skills of an Effective Project Manager

[00:14:41] Henry Suryawirawan: Let’s go to the actual project management skill set. Becoming an effective project manager is actually probably, like I said, it’s a dying art. Some people may even think that role doesn’t exist anymore. But what do you think are some of the skill set that are required to be an effective project manager?

[00:14:59] Jana Axline: Yeah. I think that’s actually one of the challenges that companies end up facing. They focus on the technical skill, the hard skills, as they say, of project management. Meaning, do you know how to use MS Project or JIRA or whatever the solution is going to be? Do you know how to write a schedule? Do you know how to do dependencies? Do you know what risks are? Issues are? How to document them? Everything that gets taught to us in a project management class or PMBOK. That’s the foundation. That’s the bare minimum of what you need to be a project manager. But to be a successful project manager, I really think it comes more around those soft skills.

A project manager, I often like to view them as the conductor of an orchestra, where each section of the orchestra has their instrument and their expertise. The violinist, they know the violin. The flutist, they know how to play the flute. They’re experts in that. But the conductor is there to bring people in at the right time. Cause some of these have different tempos that they’re moving at. So how do you bring everybody in at the right time, at the right speed, to create a beautiful piece of music, right? And so that’s what a project manager needs to be doing. And some of that is around facilitation and communication. How do you bring the right people into the room? The problem that you need to get solved. When the team gets stuck, what do you do to help them move past whatever is getting them stuck? Problem solving is a huge component of effective project management. And it doesn’t mean that I have to go and solve all the problems as a project manager. Like I may not be able to go solve a database problem, but I need to go make sure I’m pulling all the pieces together so the problem can be solved.

You know, I think one of the other things I see is that project managers really have a bias for action, or at least the successful ones do. Meaning, you don’t just sit there, wait and see, and let the team come to you or whatever. You’re out there pushing the project forward all the time. Because if you just let the project sit, it’ll probably atrophy. There’s not going to be any momentum to keep that project moving forward. Because people have other competing priorities. So something has to be pushing that effort forward, and a project manager can play a part of that, by having a bias for action and really doing all the things that need to be done to make the project successful.

And then the other thing that I see where companies get into problems is when they don’t have effective escalation, or where a project manager doesn’t know how to effectively escalate. So they don’t let people know when there’s a problem on the project soon enough, so that the problem can be solved. Once you’ve looked at it as a team and you’re like, “Oh, we really aren’t sure what we’re going to do. Maybe we’ll go try those couple of things, and we don’t know if they’ll work”. You know, there should be escalation happening and communication either to stakeholders, to sponsors, whomever has the power to bring more resources in. It doesn’t have to be people, but like whether it’s knowledge or whatever, but bring whatever pieces we need in to resolve the issue. So, project managers can’t be fearful. They have to have a lot of courage, right? They have to have courage to speak the truth in the interest of the project.

[00:17:50] Henry Suryawirawan: I love all the points that you’ve mentioned, especially about bias for action. Because yeah, sometimes in an Agile team, we do need someone to actually push the team forward, push the things to get done, right? And I think the bias for action for project manager or whatever role that is within the team is actually very important. The last point that you mentioned about effective escalation, I think sometimes the team probably is not able to find out, like when should we escalate and when we should not. I think too many times, it gets too late, and the surprises came at the end, and the project soon become at risk before it gets delivered.

[00:18:23] Purpose vs Checklist

[00:18:23] Henry Suryawirawan: Before the show, we also talk a little bit about effective project manager, and you come with one point saying that a project manager should also understand the purpose of the project versus executing checklists. So maybe you can elaborate more on this. Why project manager needs to understand the purpose?

[00:18:39] Jana Axline: That’s another thing that Agile is a big proponent of, is bringing that vision and ensuring everybody understands the vision of what the project is. Or what that sprint is. What the epic is. All the way up. The reason Agile pushes that so much is because if we understand what the end state is going to be, we can figure out if we’re not on track. If I, as a project manager just has a checklist that I’m working out of, I know if we’re on track or off track to the checklist, but don’t know if we’re on track or off track to what the objectives of the project is, or the vision of the project. So it’s really important for everybody to understand where we’re trying to get to with this initiative so that anybody can raise a flag and say, “Hey, I don’t think we’re going to hit the mark”.

[00:19:19] Henry Suryawirawan: I think it’s a good point that you should know whether you are on track or off track of the objective as well, not just the checklist, the JIRA, or the items what you need to do.

[00:19:29] Leader vs Coordinator

[00:19:29] Henry Suryawirawan: Moving on to the next section is about whether the PM is actually a leader or just a coordinator. Should a PM be also a leader in the team?

[00:19:37] Jana Axline: Oh, absolutely. Like they are the leader. What I mean by that is, so if you have a project coordinator, all they’re doing is taking minutes, recording risks and issues, updating the schedule, very administrative. I mean, a project manager is out there championing for the success of the project. They’re out ensuring that all the stakeholders are engaged, that the sponsor has what they need, that we’re on track to getting the outcomes that the sponsor expects, facilitating the team. There’s a lot of team dynamics that come into projects. And when I take on projects, a lot of times I’ll be asked to come in during failing projects or off-track projects.

So I’ll come in, and I’ll be evaluating the situation and there’re a few things going on. One, we may not have good processes in place. So you need a project manager who can come in and be like, “All right, here’s where we’re having a breakdown”. I was on a project where the end-users were being surprised by changes every month when there was a release, because there wasn’t a process to say, “Hey, Business. Here’s what we are about to release. Back to the black box. Out of the black box. Into production, and so there were constantly being surprised. So I put in a process so that they were no longer surprised, and they could be proactive about doing the things they needed to do to be prepared for it.

While project coordinator is not going to do that. I’ve come into an environment where it’s become very negative. And so somebody needs to be in there making sure that conversations are being productive, and they aren’t going down useless rabbit holes because we’re finger pointing. My job as a project manager is to keep people focused on what success looks like rather than where we’ve been. So I think that interpersonal relationship ability is extremely important for a project manager. Project coordinator is important sometimes, but a project manager is definitely the leader.

[00:21:20] Earning the Respect

[00:21:20] Henry Suryawirawan: Speaking about leader, are you leading with fear or not? Because sometimes, I was in project teams before, and some project managers tend to be dominant. They want to be an executor. They want to be a leader, but not necessarily earning the respect of the team members. So what do you think are some of the tips for project managers out there to actually executing well, but also earn the respect of the team members?.

[00:21:41] Jana Axline: Well, so I’m definitely a driver, and I tell people how it is. But if you take my personalities too far, you could end up in being a dictator. All I care about is results or something like that. You know, I can definitely see how people can take that too far. But I think that if you have that personality type or tendency, I think some of the key things to do are, one, take time to build relationships. And two, always treat people with respect. Just because I need to drive something forward, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be listening to people, hearing their concerns, getting that feedback and incorporating their feedback. So I think that’s really important for a project manager to do because then the team will work for you.

I’ve had a lot of people say, “Oh. Jana can be kind of tough because she just kind of says what it is. But most of time they respect me because I respect them, and I protect them. If the leadership starts to get on their case about something, I’ll do my best to protect them and take those blows. Because of that and protecting them, the results of what I get, people respect me. I’m not looking to be liked. But I’m looking for people to respect me so that I can “lead them”. But I do that through how I treat them.

[00:22:49] Henry Suryawirawan: Yeah. I think the key thing here is mutual respect. Mutual trust with each other.

[00:22:53] Jana Axline: Yeah.

[00:22:53] Henry Suryawirawan: Because oftentimes, I see again, the team members may not respect the project manager in the beginning when everything is still beginning, like everyone is still happy. But during crunch time, when we see, okay, we are not hitting the deadline. We are not executing well. And that’s when probably the project manager becomes more respected because people will see, okay, they are here to help us drive the team move forward, drive the execution. Also helping to protect the team in case of somebody else blaming the team or whatever that is. So project manager will be there to help become the mediator, and also explain the situation. Thanks for sharing about mutual respect. I really like that.

[00:23:26] Project Management Anti-Patterns

[00:23:26] Henry Suryawirawan: So speaking about being in the industry, helping people execute projects. In fact, I assume that many people would actually involve you when the projects are kind of like at risk or failing, like you mentioned. What are some of the anti-patterns that you see from all these career Project Genetics? What are some of the top anti-patterns that you should think people should avoid?

[00:23:47] Jana Axline: The one that comes to mind is crisis mentality. I can’t tell you how many times I go into an organization and everything is a crisis. Really?! Unless it’s involving the life of a person, or I guess, a mortality event to the company, that wouldn’t be good because that would impact a lot of lives as well, it’s not a crisis. A crisis is driven by a perceived shortage of time. And so, we need to assess what’s driving that shortage of time, and really put things into perspective. To me, that I think is an important thing to do. On a project where a status report becomes a crisis, somebody needs to be brave enough to tell leadership that we’re dealing with something more important, and they’ll get their status report in a day. We need to be respectful and say when it’s going to happen. So I think leadership all the way down to the team needs to be doing that and be willing to speak up.

The other thing is, things become a crisis because people don’t ask questions. If someone came to me as a project manager, maybe back at CIGNA, and said, “Oh, the senior director needs this and they need it now”. You know, a lot of project managers just, “Oh my goodness”, and they’d go do it. Rather than asking the question of by when do they need it exactly? How much information do they need? Does it need to be perfect and refined or can it be just rough because I’ve got these things going on? Oh, and by the way, is it this high in priority? Here’s all the other priorities I’m working on today. Do you really feel like this is that high in priority or should we find someone else to do it? We just do it because the fear of, oh my goodness, so-and-so’s asking for it, rather than asking a lot of questions. So I guess that’s a lot to say around crisis, but I think that creeps into a lot of companies.

The other thing I see project managers do is there’s this balance with project management of getting into the weeds and really looking at the details, but then lifting your head up and looking at their horizon. I took over a project because the project manager, he really wanted to be a technical person. And so when technical issues came up on the project, he would be alongside the architect trying to solve them, like actively be part of the solution. Well, because he was tying himself up in that, he was missing the fact that the budget was blowing out. That we weren’t going to make timelines because all these other activities weren’t happening that were supposed to be happening simultaneously, etc. So he’s way to focused in the technical aspect, rather than looking down, looking up, and making sure you understand what’s happening at the moment, but also where we’re headed. It’s like when you drive the car and you look down at your speedometer, you look up out the window and you glance behind the rear-view mirror. Your eyes are always moving when you drive a car. And it’s going to be the same with project management.

[00:26:21] Henry Suryawirawan: I love the first point that you mentioned everything is a crisis. Because these days, people seem to have this pressure of delivering on time, perfectly well, the team also knows what to do. I think it’s kind of like difficult, right? Especially if in the mindset of Agile. We probably want to iterate fast, and also be able to execute without actually fear of being like a failure because failure to them is actually an experiment. But people seem to also have this traditional mindset where yeah, I have all these projects. I want to get it done perfectly. Still, that kind of bridge is missing. And I like the point about status reports.

[00:26:54] Status Report

[00:26:54] Henry Suryawirawan: So speaking about status report, I think this is still something that is predominantly out there for traditional companies, startups out there, especially as they grow large, right? Because they don’t know what is actually happening inside the project. And a lot of management ask for status report. So what do you think we should do to avoid this bureaucratic status report? Telling management this is what we have done. Is there anything that we can do to avoid or minimize that, at least?

[00:27:18] Jana Axline: Oh, well. I think status reports are important. But I think there’s a lot we can do with AI to reduce the impact that it has. Because I mean, really, as an executive, you need to know what’s driving your strategy forward. So, your projects are part of that strategy, and you need to know, are the projects getting done? Where are they at? Especially if there’s market commitments around them, etc. So like, if the CEO of Apple doesn’t know where the iPhone 14 is in development, he may not know how to be providing the right tools and resources and whatever to make sure they hit their September 2022 or whatever it ends up being. I mean, I think status is critically important. But I think, where leaders need to rethink is not always asking for things in 20 different ways. And that, in my example earlier is what happens. It’s like all the data’s out there, but now, it’s the flavor of the month of how they want it to look. So that’s the problem on the leader’s side.

But then, you know, for general, where is status reporting heading? Well, we need to do more with automation, right? So how do we pull together the tools, whether it’s JIRA, Microsoft, whatever that the project team is doing, and make it a one-stop shop for all the information that’s needed. How do we make sure that the budget’s tied in? How do we make sure there’s a repository for risks and issues? Then all that data gets pulled together, and then served up whether it be through BI or dashboard where people know what’s going on for the whole project. JIRA would be limited because it won’t tie all the way back to the strategy. It won’t have all the elements. Now, I haven’t used the new JIRA project management. I’m not sure that it has the risks and issues tracking. So we need to be using AI to pull the data from wherever these things get listed and tracked, and serve it up so that all the project manager might have to do them is once a week. Tie it all together in a summary. Two or three lines that summarizes the state of things, but then all the data is just automatically served up.

[00:29:08] Henry Suryawirawan: Yeah, I think I’m sure automation can help a lot. And the other thing you mentioned about the cadence itself. I think the discipline must be there to actually execute it at the right time so that you actually don’t take orders from the top. “Hey, can you give me a status report?” But if you have a good cadence and you’re disciplined enough to execute a status report, I think that’s also a key, in my opinion. From my experience, is that yeah, sometimes if the cadence is not there, people missed sending the status report, that’s when actually things become more complicated, right?

[00:29:35] Jana Axline: Absolutely.

[00:29:36] Escalation

[00:29:36] Henry Suryawirawan: The other thing about speaking about effective escalation before, I think that’s definitely one area that project managers sometimes tend to escalate late. But what about too many escalations? And actually leadership always have to come down and help the team. So what do you think about this?

[00:29:51] Jana Axline: Well, so there’re two factors to that. One, you’ve got a problem where the project manager needs to make sure they understand when things need to be escalating, so that we’re only escalating appropriate things. So that goes back to being a leader. But the other problem that can happen is that a lot of escalations can be a sign that your project manager isn’t leading the project. So if everything gets to the point that it’s an escalation, it means that we’re not doing the things that need to happen before that. The only thing that should be getting to the executives is when the project team doesn’t have the resources they need to solve the problem. If all the resources there, they should be solving the problem themselves. But if maybe it takes special expertise that we don’t have, or we need more funding, that’s the only things that should be going up to the leadership. Otherwise, the project manager should be facilitating and helping the team get to the solution.

[00:30:44] Henry Suryawirawan: What about if the project is at risk for whichever reasons, when do you think is a good time to escalate? Let’s say, we have a three months project. We can see we are not meeting the deadline, maybe halfway of the project. When do you think we should escalate this? Because sometimes, I think this is tricky. A project manager doesn’t want to escalate too frequently, just like what you mentioned as well, because for fear that they are not performing the job well. But when do you think the art of escalating sometimes is a bit tricky here? Maybe you can explain explicitly, like when is actually the escalation should happen?

[00:31:15] Jana Axline: Anytime you’re going to get off of scope, schedule or budget. But it’s how you do it that’s important. The term escalate very much sounds like we’re putting something forth that is a crisis, or it’s an emergency, and we don’t want to do that. What we do want to do, though, is make sure that we have awareness because if we don’t make sure that there’s awareness, it’s going to turn into a crisis. So the second that we were a week behind now, that’s just start being in the message like, Hey, we’re a week behind, here’s our strategy to get back on track. And then the next week, oh, now we’re two weeks off track. Our strategy’s not working. Now, we need leadership intervention or whatever. So I think the communication needs to be there as soon as the project is off track within some sort of tolerance. 5%, 10% tolerance depending on the risk tolerance of the organization. It should be communicated.

But then, it shouldn’t be truly escalated as in I need your intervention is when you’re off track with no plan to get back on track. And we use colors for that. So if you’re off track, but you have a plan, a viable plan that will get you on track, we call it yellow. But if you’re off track, and you don’t have a viable plan to get you back on track, that’s red. But the executives need to know about it while it’s yellow. Because if they get surprised, there’s going to be a whole bunch of, well, how did we get here? You know, things that waste time, because now they have to be caught up to where we are.

[00:32:32] Project Management Tools

[00:32:32] Henry Suryawirawan: Speaking about all these color coding, is there any kind of like technique tools that you normally advocate to your customers about? Unique project management, not like JIRA and all that. We all know about it, but something like this yellow coloring. Is there any other techniques or tools that you normally advocate?

[00:32:48] Jana Axline: No. I mean, I really think that the foundational tools that are provided are good. I think the color coding for the various areas of a project gives people a way to see things at a glance. I think just having really clear and concise status reporting is important. I think you’ve got to have tools though that fit the project. One of the things I see that I go into organizations and they’ve got tools. They have project managers, but the tools are more for everybody else. So for a good example would be like, again I haven’t seen it recently, so maybe it’s changed, but ServiceNow is a pretty good tool for technology people who are responding to tickets and things like that. But from a project management tool, it used to be very clunky. Well, you’re not giving a tool for the user who’s going to use it, and so then, it requires them to do a lot of workarounds to get the information they need or a lot of extra effort. So, companies need to really, when they’re selecting technology tools, look at what’s our objective and which tools, whether it’s one or a combination of it is going to get us to that extract of, and don’t be afraid to go with two tools or something and do integration. I know you said not from a software perspective, but I do think that’s important.

On the other side, I really think the base things though of the project management discipline are important. What’s our risk register? What’s our issues register? Where are we recording decisions? Do we have a project schedule? Do we have a budget that we’re at least tracking on a monthly basis that’s accurate? And then, we have our status reporting. You know, I don’t think you should overkill it. There’re some organizations where they have a project management plan that’s a hundred page long for a project. Well, nobody’s going to read it. So things need to be simple enough that people will actually use them. But complex enough that it’s reaching the objective of why it exists.

[00:34:32] Henry Suryawirawan: I do agree that the administrative stuff should not be too overburdening that you’re like crippling yourself, not to be able to do the actual work, versus delivering the status report itself.

[00:34:42] Jana Axline: Agile says working software over documentation, I think the word’s comprehensive documentation. So it’s not about not having documentation. It’s about do we really need hundred page system requirements specification, or is that overkill? I think that’s why Agile says that is like, Hey, we can get to the point where we’re so focused on these interim deliverables that we miss the most important in deliverable, which is the working product.

[00:35:08] Tips for Project Management Career

[00:35:08] Henry Suryawirawan: Thanks for clarifying that. The other thing I see, like some of our listeners here, are young people who are just starting their career, or maybe just finishing their studies. Like I mentioned, project manager is probably not a trendy role anymore in the industry. What will be some of your tips for these people who maybe like you, they know they can see project management is for me. This is what I’m good at. But somehow, the role seems going down in the industry. What do you think are some of the tips for these youngsters? How should they pursue about this project management career?

[00:35:37] Jana Axline: Well, I think one thing to understand is project management is in every industry. It’s really great if you can figure out, Hey, I’m good at this project management discipline, but what else am I also interested in? I picked technology projects because they’re the ones that fail the most, and I like to be in there. I like how fast they move. I like how complex they are. I like that it’s very dynamic and we have to keep going. But, you know, project management isn’t making movies. Like a movie is a project management. It’s in building roads and all of these things. So figuring out where your interest is in, as well from functional industry, knowing that then I can go apply this project management discipline. It’ll be great for you because then you’re passionate about project management and then you’re passionate about the field that you’re working in within project management. So I think that’s a great thing if somebody does that.

The other thing I think is really important, though. I highly value volunteering. So I got involved in a Project Management Institute. I’ve been involved in some Agile organizations, etc. And that’s great because it connects you to where people are looking for project managers. One, you get to show your competency to these people, and then once they trust your ability, they can connect you to where the opportunity might lie. And it took me two years of volunteering before I got that opportunity, but it propelled my career. So volunteering is a great thing.

And then the third thing I’d say is just diversification. Project management is a term. Maybe dying. I don’t know if I completely agree with that. But it’s not as a discipline or as a practice. And so, what complimentary skills can you get that will help augment your ability? Whether it’s Agile certifications, which I have tons of those, or go get a product management certification or go study architecture. Cause architecture kind of in my mind is similar way the way a project manager thinks. But you know, skill diversification so that then you can change the messaging around what you want to do. I mean, so you might still want to do project management, but you can just message it a different way, or come at it at a different angle, so people still see the value.

[00:37:39] Henry Suryawirawan: I like the diversification part because sometimes yes, all these roles exist, but we still need someone who drives the project. And your project management skills, the discipline, the practice itself will be key. So I think for sure, people who are interested in project management, do pick up some of the core knowledge as well, and use that project management skills to drive the success of the project.

[00:37:59] Tech Projects Failure

[00:37:59] Henry Suryawirawan: One thing that you mentioned, right? Because you seem to choose technology as your industry or domain, and you mentioned technology is always failing. I mean, we have heard about this long time back. IT projects always failing. But now you mentioned also tech projects still failing. What do you think are some of the reasons?

[00:38:15] Jana Axline: I think there’re a lot of reasons and that’s why you have to go into each project and really assess it. But some of the things go back to that gulf of evaluation that I mentioned, so building the wrong product. So, I like what Agile does, but you know, even then, if it’s a huge thing we’re trying to bite off and do, we still might get to the end and be off track because the marketplace changed. So I think, one, is making sure we really understand what we’re trying to do, and why. Two, chunking it up small enough that we’re putting value out into the market, or putting value into the organization to be used in small chunks, six months, three months, whatever it is. So that if the business changes direction, the project could pivot as well. But if you’re waiting 12 months to put out a project or a product in its entirety, the market or the need may have changed. I do think business moves very quickly, and we make our projects huge, you know, digital transformation is like 18 months or two years. So how do we chunk that up? So that we’re realizing value sooner, and we’re also not committing to something that might become irrelevant in 18 months. So I think that plays a factor in it.

And then the two other things that I think play a huge factor into it is that organizations take on too much as a whole. Therefore, there becomes conflicting priorities. So, as an organization, having only two or three enterprise projects, if you tell some of these people, they would freak out. What do you mean we can only work on three projects? I think it’s important because you’ll get them done faster. Anytime you have a portfolio of 40 projects that have to get done in a year, what’s the likelihood you’re going to do that if you start 20 of them at the same time? The organization needs to focus getting them done quicker, and get them right, and then move on to the next thing.

And then the final thing is I think companies just underestimate and understaff projects. They really aren’t realistic about what it’s going to take to get it done. So again, if we put that focus on it, we commit our resources, both people resources and economic resources to a really small pool of projects and get it done, I think they’d even find they’d saved money over time. Money in the time that people spent, but also just money and reducing waste and redo, rework.

[00:40:22] Henry Suryawirawan: Thanks for sharing your perspective on this tech project. Yeah, I think we still have a lot of things to work on before actually tech projects become always a success, so to speak.

[00:40:31] 3 Tech Lead Wisdom

[00:40:31] Henry Suryawirawan: So, it’s been a pleasure, Jana, talking to you about all this project management. I know we could go on and on and on about all these classical project mistakes and all that. But unfortunately, due to time, we have to cut it short for now. But before I let you go, I always ask this one last question to all my guests, which is to share about three technical leadership wisdom. But you can also call it project management leadership wisdom. So what will be your three technical leadership wisdom?

[00:40:55] Jana Axline: Yeah. Well, I mean, I think it applies to the technical world. There’re a few things. One, always be growing. That really is the key. We can always be looking at how to do things better. In Agile, it’s the retrospective, and that’s how the teams operating together. But how has us as an individual, I’ll leave a meeting and be like, oh, you know, I was a little snippy. I need to work on that. How am I improving as a person to make sure the interactions with the other team is more important? So I think that growth mindset and a focus on growth is extremely important.

Second is really learning that in order to succeed in the world, which tech is part of the broader world, is those soft skills are really important and they need a lot of attention. Around how do we communicate more effectively? And how do we really work on our team dynamics and improve that? So that would be number two.

The third one for me maybe is just always kind of having some sort of vision for your life and your career. So it doesn’t mean you have to know all the steps to get there, but really when you look back on your life, what do you want to have achieved? What do you want your life to look like? Some people that’s money, some people it’s flexibility. Whatever those things are, really think about what you’re after, and then just make sure that all the opportunities that you take are moving you towards that. So that you don’t end up 20 years into your career, and you’re like, well, I’m still doing the same development job, and it’s kind of boring. My tech skills are starting to get outdated because I didn’t move with the times. Whatever it is, you don’t want to end up there. And I think having a vision would help.

[00:42:25] Henry Suryawirawan: Spoken like a true project manager. Having a vision. So yeah, I do love that actually, because sometimes personally, we tend not to have vision. Like we just cruise along, and hopping between jobs and career, but actually without having a one unified vision. So thanks for reminding us about that. So Jana, if people want to talk more about all this project management, follow you online, is there a place they can find you?

[00:42:47] Jana Axline: Yeah. So LinkedIn’s great. I’m pretty prolific there. Project Genetics has a handle on Instagram. Or you can go to ProjectGenetics.com, and find out more about our company, and listen to our podcasts.

[00:42:59] Henry Suryawirawan: Right. So, thanks. I’ll make sure to mention all that in the show notes. Thanks again, Jana, for your time. I hope you are saving more and more projects in the world. It needs to be safe. So good luck with that.

[00:43:10] Jana Axline: Yeah. Thank you for having me, Henry.

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