About Damian Sian

I am a Digital Project Manager at Fortune 500 financial company in New Jersey. I hold my MS in Graphic Communications Technology Management and have a over 10 years industry experience. I really dig process and I enjoy applying theories otherwise thought to be strictly the domain of other industries, to the struggles faced by creative agency professionals.

Lateral Thinking in Creative Projects

Lateral thinking in creative projects illustrationThe award for the most overused and trite term used in the creative agency goes to… “Think outside the box.” Why then write a post that props it up as an important element to the creative process and creative project management? Because I enjoy irony, and there is a lesson to learn in this aphorism that is oft overlooked and deserves greater attention afforded to it. Creative projects suffer from imbedding false assumptions and self-limiting beliefs into the project plan via a vertical, linear thinking that keep ideas well inside this proverbial box.

Let’s look at linear thinking and the dangers it presents to the creative project. Continue reading

Hidden Factories

Hidden Factory

Hidden Factories are natural outgrowths of an organization trying to correct issues of poor quality by implementing a series of operational inefficiencies to “correct” the issue. These corrective activities become engrained into the Standard Operating Procedure of the firm and become “the way we do things at this agency.” When these types of rationalizations occur, you have mentally hidden the operation and consequently have created a drain on revenue that provides no real value to the client.  Continue reading

A Zen Koan Perspective for the Creative Project Manager

A koan for the creative Project Manager

First there is a project , Then there is no project, Then there is a project…

A koan is meant to bring about deep reflection on a topic with the intent of taking the practitioner closer to the goal of enlightenment. These concise and clever proverbs contain gems that afford a better perspective on complex topics. In this post I will use the mountain koan to dissect the phases of a project and illustrate three key points:

  1. We should not lose “beginner’s mind” and the lofty idealism of the project plan
  2. It is difficult to see the forest through the trees while “inside” the project
  3. There are missed opportunities by ignoring project postmortems

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Kaizen for the Creative Agency Project Manager


Kaizen for the creative agency project manager

Kaizen for the Creative Agency Project Manager

Literally translated from Japanese to English, Kaizen means “Good Change”. The inference in business terms becomes improvement, or the process of continuing improvement. Kaizen’s history in the business world began with manufacturing and is closely associated with 5S Lean, but like any simple theory based in the scientific method, it can be applied to broad range of industry. I would argue that holding the principles of Kaizen as a core value is especially imperative for the Creative Agency Project Manager.

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Strategy for time sheet compliance


Time Sheet Compliance Strategy

Lack of Time Sheet compliance is a common issue among creative agencies. No matter what the firm’s billing scheme is–fixed fee, retainer, or time and materials–capturing the effort spent at the task level of projects is critical in these three areas: Estimating, Productivity Analysis, and Financial Accounting. To counter this problem I propose a tiered system of bonuses as an incentive program for increased Time Sheet compliance for creative agencies.  Continue reading

12 steps to creative agency estimating success

12 steps to creative agency estimating success

Hi, my name is Damian, and I have a problem with the current state of estimating in creative agencies. Do you also have an agency that is averse to estimating? Have things gotten out of hand? Hurt feelings? Damaged relationships? Maybe it’s time to start the healing process and have an intervention. Let’s review a 12-step program that can lead your creative agency to a rehabilitated estimating process.

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Drum Buffer Rope in the creative agency

Drum Buffer Rope

Is your process plagued by bottlenecks? Does one of your project resources have a gnarled stack of job tickets on their desk? The uninitiated may look at that resource as the weakest link in your process, but a closer examination would point the finger to poor scheduling. Drum Buffer Rope (DBR) seeks to provide a solution to this resource overload through a limiting WIP principle.

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Reduce lead time with CCPM

Critical Chain for Creative Agency Project Management

How does your creative agency estimate task durations?

If you’re like most agencies, you’re using a mixture of historical data tempered with solicited resource input. I.E., I’ll start my estimate by looking at what we did last time (if available) and I’ll ask the resource how long they think it will take. The CCPM method then adds another step that many in the creative agency profession would find shocking: cut those durations estimates in half!

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Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business



Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business

Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business

Currently reading David Anderson’s book – Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business

Really enjoying the case studies presented in regards to the benefits of limiting WIP to increase efficiency.

Kanban has a great use in any situation that could use the structure of a pull system to enter work into the flow.

Highly recommended!

“Kanban is becoming a popular way to visualize and limit work-in-progress in software development and information technology work. Teams around the world are adding kanban around their existing processes to catalyze cultural change and deliver better business agility. This book answers the questions: What is Kanban? Why would I want to use Kanban? How do I go about implementing Kanban? How do I recognize improvement opportunities and what should I do about them?”

Limiting WIP through critical chain project management

Limiting WIP equals reduced lead times

The Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) methodology promotes scheduling projects in a way that is cognizant of resource constraints and avoids multi-tasking. There is a lot of ground to cover on Critical Chain Project Management but in this post I want to focus on a key area that may be one of the hardest to swallow; limiting Work in Progress (WIP) by staggering project schedules.

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