Chellinsky Blog

Strong Circle Day

June 23rd was City Year's Strong Circle Day. It's a day when former and current corps members share stories about fellow corps members that were part of their strong circle.

I missed the main event, but want to share some of what I learned from people in my strong circle that stick with me ten years later. Note that many of these relate back to project management. City Year was one of my first tastes of what would become my career as a PM.

  1. Communication and perspective are some of most difficult things to maintain on a project and your team. Everyone must work to communicate constantly and continually align your perspective with reality.

  2. You can change your community and yourself by working hard with a team of like-minded individuals focused on a common goal.

  3. A project's budget is not a measure of its impact on a community or organization. The people working on the project drive the outcomes. The right people tackling the right project works better than an expensive team solving ancillary problems.

  4. Everything is time-boxed. City Year only lasts a year. Projects end. This perspective can help you keep a useful perspective as you work through a project.

  5. Everywhere I have worked, including City Year—a relatively young organization at the time—relied on undocumented processes. Document those processes and leave them for the people that follow you. Your value is in what you produce for the team, not withholding information from the portion of the team that will exist after you leave.

  6. Lastly, find joy and have fun with your colleagues. City Year is an intense experience and made better by fellow corps members that make it an enjoyable, exciting, and interesting place to be. Embrace that culture and take it with you wherever you work.

One last take-away: if you can find a copy of the book Putting Idealism to Work, read it. Although focused on City Year's work, it remains a great resource for me as I try to get things done in projects.

—Andrew