Ok, so somehow it is Q4 2018 already!
A few too many of my to-do list items / continuous improvement ideas I was going to get to this year are still ‘undone’. I have several projects on the go, plus a few Training assignments intermixed throughout my schedule, so I’ve been very busy. However, as the really astute quote goes, “Being very busy is no excuse!” (Susan Tuttle, October 2018).
So to rectify my current patchy (if not straight out deficient) punctuality with these efforts, I’m setting myself a 5-week Project Tune Up Challenge.
Who’s with me?!?!
WEEK ONE: Documentation. 30th October
Theme for the week: Clean Up and Clear Out
Challenge: Do a health-check on my project documentation and folder structures. Ensure I have all the right documentation, at the right level of formality, stored in the correct folder, and labeled correctly, for each project. (Clean Up).
Also, must admit I’m a bit of document hoarder…sometimes (well, a lot actually) I keep drafts on my system for way to long, well after the final version has been approved and signed off.
Challenge: where final versions exist, and there are no requirements to keep drafts, delete drafts appropriately according to any standards or regulations that apply. (Clear out – massive one!).
WEEK TWO: Stakeholders and Communications. 6th November
Theme for the week: Shake Up and Shake Out
Have I become complacent with Stakeholder Engagement – am I falling into the trap where I start to believe that just because I said it, people heard me correctly, much less heard me at all? Stakeholders’ number one complaint about Project Managers is that they don’t feel that they are being communicated with. How long has it been since I’ve followed that up and checked in to see how effective my communication efforts are?
Challenge: Review my Stakeholder profiles, check in with key stakeholders to ask if they are getting the right information at the right times in the right format for them. (Shake Out). Based on feedback, shake it up – try new communications methods, channels and frequencies to meet their needs. (Shake Up).
WEEK THREE: Risks. 13th November
Theme for the week: Catch Up and Call Out
Everyone can do a bit better with risks. The irony is that you don’t ‘feel’ like you have time to look for risks, but by not looking for them, they tend to come looking for you! Each of my clients has their own Risk Management Approach, though lately I’ve noticed I am managing risks the same way across all my projects.
Challenge: Reacquaint myself with each of the different Risk Management Approaches and check whether my actions are in-synch or need adjusting. (Calling myself out on that one!). For each project, set a new risk meeting with the team to review, discuss and set an appropriate time-based risk reviews for each project. Agree with the teams to be more diligent. (Call out on each other to keep accountable, as well as Catch up).
WEEK FOUR: Plans. 20th November
Theme for the week: Group effort, group effort, group effort
Too many times it’s seen as the Project Manager’s responsibility to come up with, execute and monitor a plan. Ha! One person’s view? One person’s experiences? One person’s understanding of complex and complicated dependencies, intricacies and multiplicities? Impossible. Should always, always, always be a group effort.
Group effort to put the plan together – ideally all estimates are coming from the actual resources who will be doing the work. Group effort to review and agree the plan after looking for risks, assumptions, lessons, dependencies, clarifications and consensus. And group effort to follow the plan – team accountability and self-accountability not to ‘go off piste’ in pursuit of something more interesting. Stick to the plan (unless re-planning is needed, then see above for ‘put a plan together’).
Challenge: Check with teams to ensure they feel it has and is currently be planned and monitored as a group effort. Ask for ideas where they think it could be even better. Use these ideas in week 5’s challenge!
WEEK 5: Lessons Learned (not Lessons Identified and not Lessons kept to myself). 27th November
Theme for the week: In & Out AND Good & Bad
I, like most Project Managers, have lain awake at night after some unexpected event on a project and reflected in the early hours how that might have gone a bit better (ahem, understatement). I have also done this more productively during daylight hours – captured and reflected on different ways of approaching situations to get better results next time.
What I’m not so good at is looking outside my projects for inspiration and I hate to admit it, I’m not that good at sharing…Me and my teams are the only ones to benefit from our musing and reflections. Finally, I’m quite a positive and optimistic person, but for some reason, I tend to focus on learning negative lessons. I don’t remember actively searching out positive lessons. I may do it intrinsically, because I do end up repeating a lot of good things project to project. However, with a more concentrated effort, I could repeat good and great things, consistently!
Challenge: Make a conscious effort to seek out good and bad lessons from previous projects. Schedule in time to spend with other Project Managers to share lessons – easier said than, done. So any advice on good (and I mean good – as in you’ve tried it and it really works good) way of doing this would be appreciated!
Wish me luck!
Join me if you can and let me know how you’re getting on. Is there anything else you want to tackle? Maybe we can squeeze in a BONUS sixth week challenge before the end of the year?!?!