Now, come on! You know there is no easy fix to leadership, project management or anything similar. Yet, isn’t easy what we all long for? There are days that striving and working is just not attractive; however, the truth is that this is the only way to achieve something of lasting value. So, while the work and labor is rarely easy, here are five steps to help better manage your next project.
Vision – where are you going? This is the foundation of every project. What is the purpose? Why are you even doing this? Honestly, if done well, crafting a vision takes the most work, but a well crafted vision makes the rest of the project flow better. Don’t shortchange this step, but let it marinate. Also, vision should be short, memorable and have a call to action.
Plan – Now that you have decided upon the “why”, it’s time to figure out how to accomplish the vision. What people, resources and ideas are essential to success here? If my vision, for example, is to build a house, I need to recruit workers, buy supplies, ask the experts, etc. This vision would have no chance if I attempt house building on my own. The plan is a step-by-step process to move from Point A to Point Completion.
Flexibility – Ever had those moments where things didn’t quite turn out the way that you expected? Yep, me too – every day!! This is where a good leader learns to be flexible. People get sick, resources break and ideas begin to shift sometimes right in the middle of a project. There might be a need to pause, move back a few steps and then start out in a different direction. This is not failure, but is wisdom to ensure that the project finishes well. Consider a road trip – if storms wipe out the road you are on, you don’t cancel the trip or drive over ruined roads. You pause, search for the detour and then keep on moving!
Persistence – Yep, this could have been plenty of other things. Patience, focus, determination…you name it. The key is that you must keep on keeping on to see a project through. Rare is the project that finishes on time or early. Often, they move slower than we leaders prefer and we must determine early on to stay the course and persist to completion. Sometimes, the best thing that you can do is simply keep moving and trust the original vision and plan.
Celebration – eventually, your project is complete! Hooray – it’s time for a celebration. Don’t be so focused on accomplishment or the next project that you forget to slow down and enjoy the moment. Celebrate with family, colleagues and anybody else involved in the project. Be overly generous with your praise and throw a party worthy of the task you just accomplished. This is good for future motivation, good for morale and, quite honestly, just plain fun!
So, I know this isn’t rocket science, but having just completed the first phase of a major project at work, this is fresh on my mind. My work project is the culmination of almost four years of conversations, drafts, restarts and misdirections. Now that it has arrived though…it is truly beautiful! All good projects are worth the time and energy to follow this process – don’t put your hand to something that isn’t worth the effort to lead with excellence.