Have you ever been to a hockey game? I’m from California, so it wasn’t a common occurrence for me. But when I do get the opportunity, I love watching the Zamboni. In case you don’t know, a Zamboni is the big machine that drives slowly around the rink at the end of each period of play, slowly resurfacing the ice and smoothing out the cuts caused by the players’ skates. It’s soothing to watch, and calms the OCD part of my soul. (There’re even several songs about Zambonis by a band called….The Zambonis.)
I spend most of my day coordinating and creating elearning video projects, shifting schedules, solving logistical problems, and addressing concerns. If you aren’t paying attention, it might seem like I’m a kind of human Zamboni – smoothing bumps out after they happen so projects can get back on track. The action happens first, and I follow behind smoothing things out.
The reality is, you can’t run a project efficiently if you think of yourself as a Zamboni. You have to think about yourself like a Power Forward. In hockey, a Power Forward is someone whose primary responsibility is scoring or assisting goals. You know where the puck is at all times, and you anticipate where it should go next to help your team move ahead. You’re the leader on your team, you drive the play forward relentlessly, and you fight for the puck to hit the goal (and you probably don’t have many qualms about throwing a punch here and there).
The best project managers or producers act like Power Forwards. They answer any question about a project’s status at any time. They don’t wait for someone to fill them in – they proactively reach out for information. They anticipate where a stumble might happen or the team might fall behind – and they have backup resources waiting on the bench to fill in. They are constantly reassessing status and seeing how they can make their employee training video project run more efficiently, smoothing out bumps and pitfalls before they happen. And their toughness allows them to remain steady while they’re being attacked on all sides.
As an experienced project manager and producer, I’ve overseen thousands of hours of online learning. Because of that, I’ve seen all kinds of things go wrong. I can anticipate what might go awry on any online course or microlearning video based on that experience. While I know where every project I’m heading currently stands, I also have my eyes out for potential problems. I’m skating forward with the puck, and I’m communicating with my teammates to see if we can score more efficiently. I’m throwing an elbow (metaphorically) where it’s needed, and I’m avoiding cracks in the ice.
Once you start thinking like a Power Forward, you’ll notice a big difference in how your projects run. And your teammates will likely thank you for helping them score a win. And when the project is successfully launched, well, it’s ok to take a break and watch a Zamboni clean the ice for awhile.
Elizabeth Madariaga, Co-Founder & Executive Producer, Edios Media