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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

Specifics of Voluntary Projects


Recently I told you about TEDxKrakow and how great idea it is to get engaged in a project like that if you want to get some experience in project management.

No one commented that voluntary projects can’t be exactly the same as typical commercial projects even though I pretty much expected to hear this kind of argument. I did because it would be well-grounded. Voluntary projects are specific because, well, they are voluntary.

OK, so where are differences?

  • No managers. No one is a boss. No one can just tell others they have to do something. There is no easy path. You have to earn your power before you can use it. People won’t start listening to you just because you are able to talk loudly. You have to show that you are doing at least as much by yourself and/or earn their trust before you start shouting your orders all over the place.
  • More talking. Talking is easy, talking is cheap. Unfortunately talking doesn’t get things done. People tend to throw great ideas as long as someone else is supposed to make them real. Unfortunately it sometimes turns into much talking and little doing as there isn’t really a business client who would make quick decisions on what is must-have and what is nice-to-have. A pretty good playground for doers I’d say.
  • More freedom. Unlike in typical projects you actually choose what you’re going to do. It’s like the open auction – I have this and that tasks unassigned, who’s going to take them over? Specialization works pretty similar though – we tend to choose things we are competent at and avoid those we suck at.
  • It’s easier to shine. In voluntary projects no one wants to get all the credit. After all it isn’t a place where people are going to build their whole careers. Chances are good that your effort will be properly credited. Just choose your tasks wisely and then deliver what you promised to deliver. Since in voluntary projects over-promising is just as common as in all others it should be enough to make you stand out.

There is one more thing. It is real fun to be a part of this kind of project. But, after all, I’m not sure if it is a general rule or TEDxKrakow I used as example is fun to work on or fantastic people I met in this venture made it so. Or maybe all above are true.

And if you haven’t yet registered to this fine event do it while you still can.

in: project management

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