A better title for this post would be “The Blind leading the Slightly-less-blind.” I thought it a little too wordy for a title, but it really does accurately express my experience of project management during these first few weeks of actually working on Prism.
Figuring out how to manage a project when I know little of how that project will actually be completed has been daunting. While most of our team has found a little niche for themselves—some area where they are more adept than the rest—I have found myself staring at the existing Prism code with that terrified-deer-in-the-headlights look. This has left me uncertain of whether or not I can actually make decisions about the work plan for the rest of the semester.
However, after several pep talks from both Bethany and Wayne and an incredibly beneficial tour of the Ruby code for Prism from Eric, I am starting to find my way. I have a small sense of how our work will proceed this semester and how the larger pieces of the puzzle fit together. I am hoping that as we move forward, this aspect of program management will get a bit easier.
The other challenge for me lies in understanding my relationship to the rest of the group. This comes both from my unfamiliarity with project management in general and from the special circumstances of our group. Given that I am not producing any tangible code or changes, I have been feeling that I am not really contributing to the project. This has made me feel somewhat uncomfortable with suggesting deadlines for others or checking in to see how they are making progress.
In addition, I am sensitive to the fact that early in our time together as a team we discussed resisting traditional organizational structures. This has occasionally left me even more uncertain of my role: am I a leader? a liaison between smaller projects and tasks? Should I make final decisions over things on which we do not reach consensus? How do I hold my team members accountable without being authoritarian? I am also happy to report that I have developed friendships with my teammates—but this can then lead to additional confusion when it comes to management.
Hopefully by the time of my next post I will be feeling a little less blind. Until then, your suggestions and comments are welcome!