4 Lessons from the Project Leaders Cohort

August 21, 2020

4 Lessons from the Project Leaders Cohort

This semester, Enactus United States established the first ever Project Leaders Cohort. This group consists of project leaders from Enactus teams around the country. They share best practices, connect over common project challenges, and help Enactus United States come up with ideas for quality project resources. The Cohort got together for their first meeting recently, and the conversations were flowing!

Here are 4 things I learned from sitting in on the call:

1.     Communication is key!

Across the board, all the project leaders from the cohort talked about how important clear and direct communication is when working on an Enactus project. Whether it’s engaging with stakeholders, assigning tasks to fellow team members, or keeping a faculty advisor in the loop, having a communication plan is vital. Sara and Brittany from Centenary shared that their team utilizes GroupMe to communicate as a team. They said it’s important for project leaders and team members alike to be open about their schedules and how much work they can take on at a given time. This helps with their ability to delegate tasks. A lot of other teams represented on the cohort utilize GroupMe or a similar application for inter-team communication. We’ve introduced Slack as the primary communication tool for the cohort.

Whatever tool you use, it’s clearly important to establish open lines of communication between everyone involved in a project.

2.     There are lots of tools for project management out there.

One of the big topics of discussion during our meeting was howto effectively manage a project. Every Enactus team has its own style and strategy for doing so, and some teams might benefit from utilizing a project management tool like the ones mentioned below. (add links)

-       Microsoft Teams: Isabelle from University of Florida told us her team uses this one. It’s a platform for both communication and collaboration. You can use it to share files, host virtual meetings, and communicate daily.

-       Trello: Tony from UMKC told us that some of the project leaders on his team utilize Trello. Trello is a list-making application that helps teams organize their tasks and assignments.

-       Asana: Several of our project leaders told us that they utilize Asana. Similarto Trello, Asana is a platform that allows teams to organize, track, and manage their work.

-       Monday.com: Much like Trello and Asana,Monday.com makes it easy to organize and assign tasks.

Trello, Asana, and Monday.com utilize the Kanban method. You can learn more about this method of project management in this blog post and this video tutorial.

3.     Accountability isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary.

Another topic the project leaders discussed was accountability. Several mentioned that it can be hard to make sure everything that needs to get done on a project happens. Sometimes team members become disengaged or over-commit. In some cases, their schedules just don’t allow for the commitment necessary to contribute to the project in a meaningful way. The solution? The project leaders on the call talked about how important it is to set clear goals for their projects, assign concrete tasks to team members, and to check in with members of their team regularly. They also mentioned the above project management tools as effective ways to communicate what everyone should be working on.

4.     Projects are hard. Connecting with other Enactus teams can help.

Even though these project leaders had great best practices to share, they also each came to the conversation with challenges that their team faces in designing, managing, and transitioning projects. And that’s ok! Working on Enactus projects is challenging, especially when the students working on them are busy with jobs, coursework, etc. Throughout our meeting, it was clear that these students enjoyed sharing both the successes and failures of their Enactus projects. Because so many teams go through similar problems, they were able to get some ideas for strategies to implement that could help with the challenges their team was facing. Don’t be afraid to connect with other Enactus teams and students! They might have an idea that you haven’t thought of yet, or may be they utilize a tool that could benefit your team. When we collaborate,great things happen.

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