The Loud­er Than Ten prin­ci­ples and per­spec­tives of demo­c­ra­t­ic project man­age­ment and operations

At Loud­er Than Ten, our mis­sion is to trans­form cre­ative, data, and soft­ware-dri­ven teams and orga­ni­za­tions through demo­c­ra­t­ic project man­age­ment train­ing and coach­ing which restores the bal­ance of pow­er across projects, process, and peo­ple. We believe in a future where peo­ple come before projects and good process cre­ates places for us to rest and restore our ener­gy. We com­mit to eth­i­cal, equi­table, sus­tain­able project prac­tices over dri­ving our work­ers to the brink of exhaus­tion with the sick­ness of hus­tle cul­ture. We also refuse to mea­sure our­selves against oppres­sive data points that rein­force this com­mit­ment to tox­ic hyper-efficiency. 

A just and humane world starts with dis­man­tling the inequitable prac­tices that his­to­ry designed and Loud­er Than Ten is here to make the future of orga­ni­za­tions that embrace project man­age­ment go up to eleven.


Project leaders are not task pushers. They are strategic thinkers who can support an organization’s success and democracy by knowing when to stand in the way to reset boundaries and when to get out of the way.

Project leaders create alignment and remove barriers in projects and process so that people can flourish.

Great project leaders act like lovable hard-asses and think like account managers. They can see the big and little and know when to pause and when to ask questions.

Good project leaders push back on unethical decision making. They are the gate keepers of projects.

Teams should be closely integrated. We’re a fan of dedicated teams and strong mentorship. Team teaching and fun are invaluable and orgs should leave time for this regularly.

It takes 1–3 months to scale up a brand new team; project growth should be planned accordingly.

We build and make and do through an equitable and inclusive lens.

Project management is an incredible tool to promote democracy in the workplace.

See also

Our project management manifesto

What it means to be a resilient digital project lead

A red cross on a black background

What a healthy digital agency looks like

The traits and qualities that define our most successful agency partners

The pillars of project management

To be good at project management we’ve gotta lean on the PM pillars.


The best processes evolve continuously. They are not set in stone, and the people who run them are not fundamentalists.

They are lean and prioritize the process of planning over writing plans.

Everyone has something to contribute; expertise is fluid and every voice matters.

Consensus over coercion.

Emergent or counter-intuitive thinking over process-focused box-ticking.

Alignment destroys silos and creates momentum.

Sales and project intake

Project management buffers should be between 20–30% depending on the complexity of the project.

Project leaders should be brought in after the first project discussion to determine feasibility of scope, schedule, budget, and risk.

Proper project handovers need the team to pull the project context from the knowledge holder, not have the knowledge holder is push it down their throats.

Sales and project management functions should work tightly together and support each other’s roles.

Value based pricing and monthly recurring revenue support stronger partnerships with ongoing value.

Stakeholder onboarding

Great onboarding is one of the biggest success factors for happy projects and we seldom put enough time into it.

Project leaders can script the right moves with clients through strong onboarding documentation and practices so they know where the boundaries are.

Create safety by talking about what can go wrong. It is important to talk about your fire routes and escape plans just as much as your best-laid blueprint.

Discovery and research

Discovery phases include kickoff and research.

Kickoffs are there to determine project context.

Research is what happens after kickoff to ensure you understand what you will make and build.

Great research enables teams to accurately break down the scope and requirements of their projects; everyone is an expert in their discipline. Share your knowledge.

Project plans should be presented at the end of discovery after research findings.

Spend up to the same amount of time planning as building in smaller, more iterative chunks.

Methodologies and approaches

Be method agnostic. Use what works best for the project. Learn a variety of ways to get your work done. We’re not purists and you shouldn’t be either.

Whenever possible, favour a leaner approach to your work where you prioritize continuous improvement, value delivery, and collaboration.

Scoping & estimating

People who do the work scope and estimate the work.

Success must be a shared definition decided upfront.

Juniors should be encouraged to practice.

Top-down estimation and bottom estimation serve different functions:

  • Top-down helps you to thrive by setting clear goals and targets based on revenue needs or team capacity.
  • Bottom-up helps you drive: gut check your estimates of new or complex work so you can make incremental improvements to your estimation systems.

You do not need to commit to a firm scope or estimate before you start a project so long as you consistently prioritize what you will do next and forecast how this will impact your schedule and budget. Empower your decision-makers to determine what gets built.

Estimate in days rather than hours when possible—this builds in a natural buffer and realistic cadence when you are considering where you put your time across multiple projects.

You can teach your teams to practice 90% confidence rates in estimation.

Scheduling and capacity planning

Burn rates and target revenue are more valuable for supporting organizational goals than utilization metrics which reduce hours and people to units, a practice predicated on enslavement.

Meet your deadlines. The cost of delay is often more expensive than feature creep.

Capacity planning done in blocks of time (as opposed to hours) unblocks dependencies and makes estimation simpler.

Alternating cadences can pair similar types of work or projects together, which alleviates bottlenecks and slowdowns.

Change management

Change is natural. Projects should change, and project leaders should set them up flexibly enough to allow for change.

Build-in healthy triage systems at regular project intervals that enable you to create a backlog of ongoing value for our stakeholders rather than waiting for them to reactively ask for a change at a time.

Proper prioritization is not about doing the urgent first. It’s about making sure the unimportant never become urgent in the first place.

Risk analysis

Red flags are the observable alerts that warn you of danger. When you observe red flags, you note indicators that risk is probably going to rear its head.

Risk is normal and can be good or bad. Make it mutually beneficial when by planning for it and talk about it. Risk is only scary when you avoid it like the sad elephant in the room.

Use gut instincts and situational awareness to read the room and create safe passage.

Risk helps you to understand how to weight your timelines and estimates. More risk inflates project budget bell curves.


You get what you measure. Choose your metrics carefully and don’t let numbers trump smart decision-making. There is a lot of junk data out there.

Choose metrics that prioritize human healthiness over productivity targets or you will lose every time.

Anticipated vs actuals give you incredibly useful data to help you assess the present and plan the future.

Empathic metrics tracking means anticipating what is important to each group before assigning them a target.

Talk to us.

Learn more about our programs or just say hi.