Posts Tagged ‘project management’

The Project Initiation Brief

Monday, December 21st, 2015

When confronted with a big, complex project, a lot of people just dive right in. Hey, the sooner we start, the sooner we finish, right?

Not always. This approach often results in people working ahead of their understanding. They don’t have a full picture of the steps and obstacles ahead. That’s where a lot of rework ends up happening.

Companies that are plagued with rework usually have people who don’t take the time to stop and say, “Okay, what’s the specific outcome that we are trying to accomplish here, and what’s the best way to get there? What will be the key points? And hat do we want to be sure happens? What do we want to be sure doesn’t happen? Who does this go to? What are the steps and who owns each step and how and when does the baton pass?”

The salient points need to be thought through BEFORE work is begun. So as you are about to begin a major project, say, “Hey, let’s start by doing a project initiation brief to see where we’re going with this thing before we create the need for all kinds of unnecessary work.”

Try it once, and you’ll be sold forever on the value of going in with your eyes wide open.

Chunking Time

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

There are better and worse ways to divide our time and focus. Let’s say you have three big projects for the month and each one has ten components. That’s thirty little bits that need doing.

So far so good! You’ve divided a big project into smaller steps so you can feel and track your progress better. That’s a proven way to improve productivity. But if you do a tiny bit here and a tiny bit there, skipping among the projects, checking each one off the list as you get to it, it fragments your progress. This kind of approach can shatter your focus, and you’ll wear yourself out with the constant shifting of gears.

The magic is this—things get done when time is allotted for them. Every week should start with making a list of the most important things that must be done that align with the key roles, tasks, and responsibilities of your job. Then, put As, Bs, and Cs in front of each and make sure that the As are scheduled into blocked time in your calendar. If you allot 50 minutes to complete one, no matter what, make sure you are complete at that time by making sure you focus and are not interrupted. If you have a customer-facing job with tasks, make sure someone knows they are covering for you with customers and that you are in lock down.

Researchers have found that the feeling of making real progress is at or near the top in motivation—way ahead of traditional incentives like raises and bonuses. So give yourself the boost that matters most by chunking your time so you can feel that progress happening!

Conditions of Satisfaction

Monday, October 7th, 2013

When have you REALLY finished a project? When you KNOW the conditions of the project are completely satisfied. You see…all projects are like a sandwich and the conditions of satisfaction are the bread.

Before you EVEN start the project, get the conditions of satisfaction from your boss—as much detail as you possibly can on when it needs to be done, what the components are what things NEED to be included in the final project for it to be a success—deadline, components, best practices, likely obstacles, the works.

This is the first slice of bread. And it’s your job to get them. Your boss can’t mind read so she doesn’t know what you don’t know. As a receiver of the information, take charge to fully understand before moving ahead.

Next – is the meat. The actual project.

When you think you’re done, STOP! Be sure to put on that last piece of bread. Go to your boss and explain that you THINK you finished, but you want to be sure that every condition of the project was fulfilled.

Only then is the project closed, and it’s time to tee up the next one.