Summary of the Sole Writers SIG Meeting

Held April 6, 1998 Meeting 7: Before, Then Beyond, Managing Projects

On April 6, 1998, the SIG met to discuss Before, Then Beyond, Managing Projects. Tim Foley jumped into the fray this month as a guest speaker. We discussed strategies and tools (theories and pragmatic skills). The result was astonishing from several perspectives.

Tim initiated a general discussion of projects that covered the following topics:

We skipped an exercise on Getting Control of the Release Cycle. Tim's handout has information that attendees can read.

Next, the group discussed strategies of managing our projects successfully. Tim's used an interesting strategy to present his ideas. He invited discussion and compared our thoughts with a list that he had prepared. We scored well. It's a great injustice to list superfluous headings for these ideas because the detailed information is much more expansive and explanatory that the headings would indicate. However:

Tim distributed a set of impressive documents that he uses for planning and tracking projects. Each document had a clean format and a clear focus. Tim emphasized that each individual should choose the tools that they will use (rather than blindly adopting tools that are not appropriate). Again, a simple list doesn't convey the elegance and scope of his tools, but here it is:

Summary of the Summary

If you attended the meeting, you know that Tim Foley was well-prepared. You can imagine that he carefully worked out his thoughts, prepared an outline, and collected materials. But there is more to the story.

Tim originally joined the SIG a year ago when we discussed project planning. He brought the perspective of a manager from an entrepreneurial corporation. We discussed the possibility of a presentation, and thus the seed was sown.

We exchanged email in October to muse topics. In January we settled on a date and a subject. In February he sent an outline. In March we enjoyed several exchanges where he molded his ideas to fit our format.

All this narration has several points:

1. Tim's accomplishment is the result of calm and deliberate planning. His total effort was considerable, but the day-to-day effort was small. If he hadn't used a day planner, he could never have sustained our year-long, intermittent conversations.

2. Our format for SIG meetings works, and we should stick with it. Tim owned responsability for the subject matter, but the participants owned the meeting. Edward Tufte would point out that once we've learned our format, we needn't learn it again. We needn't re-establish our group dynamics each month; instead we can build on them.

© 1998 by the STC Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA