The Power of Three Early Lessons

Was your week like mine?

  • Competing deadlines
  • Multiple projects using the same resources
  • Too many action items
  • Too many unanswered questions
  • Process that could be better
  • Tools that have you pulling your hair

Throughout the blur of phone calls and back to back meetings, I was reminded of the power of three lessons learned when I started managing projects.  The following lessons are not in the PMBOK, but everyone who’s been doing this for a while has probably learned them the hard way.

  • The Power of Follow-up
    Despite how important a task or deliverable seems to us, we need to remember that we are not the center of the world for another person.  They are spinning in their own galaxy. They may be a little preoccupied with the stuff that other people (not you!) have piled on their plate.  Following up to see how things are going, as long as it’s used judiciously, can be helpful.  You might be able to help them eliminate an obstacle or roadblock. It may also prevent you from being shocked later when you discover that your stuff fell behind in priority on the list and was deferred. How could they forget my request?  Easily.
  • The Power of Wei Wu Wei – “Effortless Doing” or Going with the Flow
    There is a time and a place for everything.  Fighting for a better world is great when it comes to real life. There are times when a Project Manager is expected to introduce change.  Other times, your job is just to get things done. Don’t let your ability to get things done be hindered by your refusal to follow the process.  Save yourself time and energy.  It helps to keep in mind that someone in the organization’s history screwed up so royally that they thought this process was the only way to prevent it from happening again. When someone says – you need to jump through this hoop and run around the building – Just Do It.
  • The Power of a Milestone chart
    Communication is a tricky thing. You may think that you have been communicating progress and urgency, but the receiver of your information disagrees. The milestone chart is a very handy thing to help improve that perception. The best milestone charts identify the deliverable or action, the owner, the expected delivery date, status (open or closed) and another column to report pending action. Keep your chart updated and send it out to the receiver(s) based on how frequently they want to see status. You don’t have to come up with wordy status statements and they instantly understand whether you’ve made progress.

I’m sure everyone has lessons they learned early on as a project manager.  Care to share them with me? Leave me a comment, send me a tweet.  My id is jgodfrey.

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One Comment

  1. “It helps to keep in mind that someone in the organization’s history screwed up so royally that they thought this process was the only way to prevent it from happening again. When someone says – you need to jump through this hoop and run around the building – Just Do It.”

    While I absolutely agree in the tactical sense (i.e., get it done, move on), I must comment that I’ve found so many of these silly processes/procedures are fixes for symptoms of larger problems (e.g., poor schedule estimates) and add very little incremental value.

    What shows up when we help an organization get to on time (cost, schedule, quality) that many of these “Just Do It” steps become obsolete (and sometimes, down right silly appearing once things start going well).

    Sometimes, if things are going consistently well, we have to “encourage” these “countermeasures” to go away. This can help to significantly improve the productivity of the organization (as we do away with more and more).

    Good post. Few people seem to recognize and understand the nature of these often “strange” management requirements or why they exist at all.

    Bruce

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