The Principles of being a Digital Project Manager


While I certainly love what I do, I must admit, I didn’t grow up dreaming of entering the project management industry. In fact, if I may be so bold, I’d imagine close to nobody has grown up with dreams of becoming a project manager.

Project management is a field professionals often find themselves falling into. In fact, we in the business have a term for it: “accidental project manager.” These professionals perhaps discovered along the way that among all the skills they’ve acquired, their strong suits lie in organization and time management as opposed to design or another creative aspect.

While their path to project management may have been unintentional, in no way does that mean it was an accident. Those who enter, stay, and thrive in the project management industry do so because they’re meant to be there.

In the last five years, the project management industry has involved to include a sub-community of digital project managers. There is, however, one critical issue for digital project managers: standards. While the digital aspect of the project management industry is relatively new, this means that digital project managers around the world are all operating differently. Their level of experience is different, how they go about their work is different, and their attitude towards their work is different.

While these differences seem pretty regular for any position in a myriad of industries, it’s important to solidify the inner workings of the profession in order for it to be taken seriously, to have a clear definition of the role of digital project manager, and to create a cohesive community of like-minded professionals.

Now, when I say standards, I don’t mean a rigid template that we all must adhere to. Rather, I’m talking about a set of principles to use as a sort of framework for how we approach and execute our work.

At DPM:UK, Brett Harned gave a keynote speech in which he proposed five principles for digital project managers to work by, which were:

  1. We are Chaos Junkies
  2. We are Multilingual Communicators
  3. We are Lovable Hardasses
  4. We are Consummate Learners & Teachers
  5. We are Pathfinders

Harned then turned it on the audience, asking them to add to his list of five principles. Statements such as “We are Always On” and “We are the Glue” were added to his list of principals, creating a network of valuable input from like-minded professionals.