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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Welch

Spinning plates: Principles for project management

Project coordination is one of my very favourite things to do. I'm super-organised, find getting things done incredibly satisfying, and love nothing more than juggling money, time, people and logistics to make meaningful things happen. I've been reflecting recently on some of the principles I go by to make projects happen effectively, ethically, and with impact.


Image: Me, spinning plates. I'm inordinately pleased with this visual pun. You're welcome.


Rule one: You can see your ethics in your budget.

Whether I'm working on a project with a budget of £10 or £500,000, I'm a firm believer that you can see what you value by where you choose to allocate the money. Are you paying freelancers properly, investing in access provision, using local suppliers, considering the environmental impact of your choices? If a project can't run ethically with the budget you have, then I'd argue the scale or design of the project needs to be reconsidered. Projects can be tiny and beautiful, and having a bigger budget comes with increased responsibility to spend it on creating the kind of project that enables fair, sustainable, inclusive work.


Rule two: Communicate, communicate, communicate

We're all busy, and we all skim emails. We all miss updates sometimes, and lots of information just isn't that interesting. Starting from those basic facts creates really interesting challenges and opportunities for project communication. What information do people need in order to be informed, enabled, and excited to take part? What format do they need it in, and when, where and how are details best shared? How can people catch up if they're late to the party? Some of the nicest feedback I've received recently said "your communication for this has been really excellent and makes things super straightforward - meaning there's space for us to be excited about it too. Thank you!" How can communication add to the sense of excitement and enthusiasm for your project?

Rule three: Do the heavy lifting

As project coordinators, it's our job to do the legwork that makes it easy for people to participate. By thinking ahead about all the details that might make participation clunky or difficult, we have an opportunity to ease that path for participants (or attendees, or clients, or whoever's intended to engage with the project). That might include things that aren't directly in our control, as well as things that are: Where's the best parking for your event, or where does the bus drop off? How does the schedule work around school holidays? What access provisions are in place, and what else could be accomodated? Who's involved in which discussions, and what's the process for agreeing decisions? What's going to happen, when and where and how? How will people know what's next? Where possible, use the opportunity of project coordination to ease the weight of those considerations, so that people can focus their attention where you really need them to.


Rule four: Consider 'how we want things to be'

This one's courtesy of Morvern Cunningham, who was a collaborator on Creative Scotland's Culture Collective project, and a great advocate for ethical, accessible working. This principle reminds us that in each of our decisions, we have an opportunity to make the world (or our sector, or our community) a little bit more how we want it to be. What would a kinder project look like? Or one that's more fun, or that helps us get to know people better, or that's less exhausting to take part in? How can each decision, each project, help us get a tiny step closer to making that reality?


 

There's more info on some of the projects I've worked on, and the kind of experience I bring, here. Do get in touch if you'd like to discuss spinning some plates together.

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