Yearly Archives: 2018

Here’s How a Project Manager Broke Into Blockchain

Published April 13, 2018 in Technical Project Management - 0 Comments

I’m feeling excited, hopeful and optimistic to join the Aragon team as its product manager. We released Aragon 0.5 to the Ethereum Rinkeby Testnet on March 29, 2018. That felt like a beneficial day to reflect on how I came to join Aragon.

I started writing this post then. I’m finishing it on my flight back from my first week of offsite Aragon team meetings.

Blockchain and Just Rolling with It

My blockchain story started with a blockchain sticker on a mailbox in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. You can read the full story here.

Before that, I started a career and life reboot. It’s evolved into a journey to align who I am with the work I do. I call that journey Just Rolling with It.

Just Rolling with It caused me to identify the skills I had that others would value and find beneficial. It turns out project management is one of those skills.

I realized blockchain was a space I wanted to work in. I began advocating for more blockchain projects to hire project managers.

The Ethereum Name Service

The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) was launching about the same time I figured this out. ENS caught my interest right away. I believed and still believe it could and will increase Ethereum’s adoption within the non-tech population. Increasing adoption through better usability will help Ethereum realize its potential.

The first launch attempt failed. I volunteered to be the project manager for the relaunch. The ENS lead developer, Nick Johnson, accepted my offer. After that, ENS launched successfully on its second attempt.

I attended the first ENS Workshop in London. This was a fantastic opportunity to meet others in the Ethereum ecosystem. It was here I met Jorge Izquierdo. Jorge’s one of Aragon’s founders.


Monica Zheng followed me on Twitter. I noticed her profile, since she recruits for crypto projects. Her human-focused approach caught my interest too.

I followed Monica back on Twitter. She sent me a DM shortly after that. It turns out she was working to fill a product manager role.

We connected on a call and she told me the product manager role was for Aragon. She also agreed that technical project management and product management were very similar. I was interested, yet hesitant to dedicate most of my time to a single project.

I spoke to Monica, then Aragon’s founders, Luis Cuende and Jorge Izquierdo. It felt like we aligned on many levels. Most importantly, we aligned on values. You can read more about that alignment in my Aragon team interview.

We continued to explore the fit and alignment over the course of weeks. This reinforced the match and overcame my hesitation to commit.

Now I’m writing this on the return flight home from my first week of Aragon team offsite meetings. I feel more aligned than ever with the project and team.

The State of Blockchain Project Management as 2018 Begins

Published January 4, 2018 in Technical Project Management - 0 Comments

I first wrote about the need for more blockchain project managers at the start of 2017. I’ve been advocating for more projects to hire project managers since then. The holidays gave me time to reflect on the state of blockchain project management as 2018 begins.

Blockchain experienced what many would consider a breakout year in 2017. Its momentum is unlikely to slow down in 2018. Blockchain projects, existing and new, continue to develop at an accelerated pace.

Blockchain Project Management Adoption

I don’t get the sense blockchain project management has kept pace. I estimate most blockchain projects still aren’t managed by project managers. From the work I’m doing in the blockchain world, I see three categories of projects -

1 - Projects that don’t have a project manager and don’t think they need one

I estimate about 60% of blockchain projects aren’t managed by a project manager. The owners of these projects either don’t think they need one at all or don’t think they need one yet.

My thesis is the right project manager helps blockchain projects succeed. I explain why in this post.

2 - Projects that don’t have a project manager but want one

I estimate about 20% of blockchain projects fall into this category. I’ve spoken to a number of project owners that recognize the need for a project manager, yet don't have one.

They face two challenges. The first is finding a project manager who knows even a little about blockchain. The second is is trying to slow down long enough to find and onboard one.

The latter perpetuates a difficult cycle. The longer a project delays working with a PM, the harder it is too slow down and the more likely it is that something will break.

3 - Projects that do have a project manager

I estimate about 20% of blockchain projects are managed by a project manager. These projects usually recognize the PM need early in the project and have taken steps to hire a PM then.

Whether the selected project manager proves to be the right fit is a different story. That’s the topic of another post though.

Blockchain Project Management Opportunities and Challenges for 2018

If my estimates are even close to correct, most blockchain projects don’t have project managers. That’s a big opportunity, as the number of existing projects continues to grow. Yet significant challenges stand in the way of realizing it.

A major challenge is convincing blockchain project owner that project management will help their project succeed. I took a shot at making this case in my earlier post.

Another challenge is to engage with a project, once the project owner has recognized the need. I’m trying to figure out how to do this, in the least intrusive way possible to the project owners.

Even with the lightest touch, engaging requires the project owner to slow down a little. This is necessary to give even the most effective project manager what they need to get started.

There's another opportunity that has me feeling optimistic about blockchain project management in 2018. This is managing projects on behalf of project sponsors.

Project sponsors may be project owners building protocols for others to use or the fund managers investing in the projects. I’m starting to see interest from these projects' sponsors. Some are starting to recognize that a project manager can help make the projects built on their platform or that they invest in more successful.

Finally, there’s the product manager vs. project manager question. To me, these are similar roles, although that opinion tends to bother people, especially product managers.

Putting that aside and taking into account the traditional definitions, I see project managers as a fantastic fit for blockchain projects building infrastructure. Infrastructure buildout is the phase many well-informed people believe blockchain is in now.

I also believe project managers are well-suited to manage Dapp development projects. My sense is most project owners view that as a product management role.

There’s no shortage in infrastructure projects and the need continues to grow. I believe infrastructure is the foundation for long-term blockchain value creation and dissemination. For these reasons, I intend to focus most of my attention in 2018 on infrastructure projects.

P.S. - I started Chainflow to help more blockchain projects succeed. Click here to learn how Chainflow can do this for your blockchain project.