Creating and Managing a Project

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Revision, May 18, 2012.

  1. Creating and Managing a Project

    Aside from roleplay, one of the aspects that makes Iwaku a unique and enjoyable place is our projects. Everyday, people are planning, creating, or working on projects that everyone can enjoy. But what defines a project?

    Simply put, a project is something that takes planning and work and has a defined goal. This goal can be a one time or an ongoing goal. However, there are differences between individual, community, private, and group projects.

    An individual project is a project undertaken by one person. It may be public or private and sometimes has help from others, but the bulk of the work is by one person. Examples include blogs, books, challenge creation, and personal worldbuilding. Notice that I mentioned that others might help with this. What defines it as individual is that the bulk of the work is done by one person, it is their idea, and the help is normally something like being a sounding board for ideas or offering a bit of technical know-how.

    Group projects, in contrast, involve multiple people taking on defined roles, all participating often and doing a great deal of the work. They often involve meetings, planning sessions, and coordination. The idea may start as one person’s inspiration, but they often need the help and in depth involvement of at least a couple other people to see it through. Examples are festivals, Co-GMed roleplays, major teaching efforts, and collaborative worldbuilding.

    Private projects are those that mostly benefit one person or group. If they benefit more than one, it is generally in exchange for something, such as a book for money. Usually, however, the main or only benefit is to the person whose project it is. This can be something such as writing a diary, exercising, or gardening. Private projects can be either individual or group, though they are more often individual.

    Community projects benefit a community, and are there for the community to either utilize or take part in. They generally are not in exchange for anything, though fundraisers and parties are sometimes the exception. Some community projects, like the monthly masquerades, only take a few people working behind the scenes and a decent amount of member participation, while others, such as theme festivals, not only take a large dedicated team but also need the active participation of a large member base. Community projects can be individual or group, and tend to be about half and half, the larger projects needing more people.

    If you are going to do a group or a community project, you can make a group for it, advertise in the Community Hub, or just ask some friends to give you a hand. The rest of this workshop is going to focus on Community projects.

    Some things you need to know before getting into a community project: Is the project a solo effort that benefits the community? Is it a site wide effort that is going to take a lot of time and coordination? What is the end goal? What resources will it take? (Remember, time is a resource, as is creativity.) How long are you giving yourself to get it done? How many project managers do you need to keep everyone on task and are they going to have specific things they oversee? Is it comprised of short, recurring bits like mini workshops, is it a long term, sustained effort like a festival, or is it going to culminate in one big end result that may not take long to do but takes a lot of planning, like a ball or a show? How much of what is going to happen can be done on the fly, how much will take careful fine tuning? Are people going to need breaks? Are you going to have to do equipment checks? What is your backup plan in case something goes wrong or someone can’t make it?

    As you can see, community projects can range from simple to incredibly complex. The more complex, the more time you need to give yourself. You don’t want to be doing everything at the last minute. That being said, no matter what, you are likely to still be doing a lot at the last minute. Even if things go according to plan, there are normally so many things that cannot be done until go time that you just have to have as much ready as possible and have time set aside for the final few hours or days. And that’s if things go according to plan. A lot of times, they don’t. So be prepared for things to go wrong. Have contingency options.

    Community projects also often call for the utilization of a great deal of resources, as mentioned above. These resources generally fall into a few categories: physical resources, informative resources, communications resources, and creative resources. Time is also a resource, and a very important one, at that. Be sure you budget enough time.

    A physical resource is something tangible. This is your equipment, decorations, art supplies, money, and, most importantly, you yourself. Some of the more important things to have for Iwaku projects are a computer or mobile device, headset and voicechat(for planning), pen and paper or notepad on your computer, and snacks.

    Information resources are things like newspapers, wikis, search bars, encyclopedias, and experienced people. There is a great deal you can find out from workshops, wikis, and searches, but sometimes, you just need to talk to someone who has done what you are attempting.

    Communications resources are anything that let you convey what is going on. This not only includes programs like voice chats and IMs, but things such as groups, forum threads, private messages, and blogs. It is best to have a group for any major Iwaku based project. It can be an onsite or offsite group, depending on what you are most comfortable with, or can blend several resources such as an onsite group and offsite document sharing. You wouldn’t know how useful a spreadsheet can be until you need one and need people to see it.

    Finally, you have creative resources. These are your ideas. You want creative, inspired people who can not only utilize old standards but can think outside of the box as well. What you don’t want is someone who is just going to say “let’s do exactly what this other person did.” Look at successful projects for their models, not their content.

    Utilizing your resources well takes practice, and normally the best way to learn is to have a few flops or a few stressful successes. Eventually, you will get the balance right.

    Resources are an important component, but so is attitude, especially for larger group efforts. Collaboration can be draining, can sometimes mean putting up with people you don’t like, and can take a great deal of coordinating schedules. It is important for a project leader or second to have a good, positive attitude, to be assertive and yet assuring, and to be able to keep everyone on task. The bigger the project, the more daunting this becomes. It helps to have a few trusted people to help manage, to have someone to rant and vent to that you can trust, and to have many back up plans in case someone ducks out at the last minute. This will help things run much more smoothly while keeping your blood pressure down.

    Finally, remember, things are going to go wrong. This shouldn’t be something that pressures you, it should be liberating. Once you know things are going to go wrong, the pressure to be perfect lightens a bit and you should find yourself more ready to deal with what does go wrong. No one expects flawless execution. Do your best, and trust in yourself. You are your own most important resource. And don’t forget, have fun!

  2. Thank you for the link, Revi. It was very helpful for me

    An insipiring article I would say. Lots of useful infomation and advice. Thank you.