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Project Management Success
Five Ways to Turn Small Projects into Professional Success
By Kevin Eikenberry
know that there have been people with the title of Project Manager for
many years, and there has been a growing body of knowledge, skills,
tools and techniques in the area of project management for a long time.
Yes, there have always been projects. But never before has it been so
important for every person to be able to lead, manage or participate in
projects of all sizes.
movement of the 80’s and 90’s taught people everywhere that work is a
process – that we can look at our work in this way to make
improvements, large and small. The improvement came in part because it
got people to think about their work in new ways.
is still a process, but many jobs have less of a process focus than
they once did. Technology has driven some of this change – many steps
that used to be manual and labor intensive are now handled by computers
and their related tools. But expectations and needs have changed too.
With technology and ever streamlined processes, organizations have
looked to people at all levels in the organization to do more than
manage or work in a process, they expect people to do project work too.
you recognize that your job expectations, regardless of your job title,
include initiating, leading and completing projects your focus changes.
Now you have to develop or use some different skills and behaviors than
were required in the daily ritual. Now you have to think differently
and act differently, because the world has changed.
my advice applies to the big company-wide initiatives – there are many
resources to help you with that in-depth knowledge. My focus is on the
small improvement project; planning the next company meeting, the
redistribution of Customers among salespeople, and a thousand more –
the smaller pieces of work that are projects, even if we haven’t
thought of them in that way.
Here are five things you can do starting today to excel with these small team or personal projects.
The assignment is just the start. Projects may come to you dressed as
tasks or assignments. Stop. Don’t just take the assignment. If you want
to make a difference you have to listen to the assignment, and then
start creating the project. Ask questions to further understand the
situation. Investigate the big picture. Find out what the root cause of
the request really is. Often leaders (and all of us) have a problem,
come up with a solution then get someone to implement the task we
identified – and too often that solution is only a band-aid, or won’t
solve the problem at all. The first way to excel in project work is to
refine and redefine the project until it is something that really
matters and can have real impact.
Fall in love (with your project). As you are re-crafting and re-tooling
your project you should be creating something that you can be
passionate about. This won’t be hard if you have truly turned it into
something that matters.
your new project. Once you have done #1, you’ve changed the project
forever. This isn’t about getting people to “buy-in” to your new scope
and vision of the project, though you certainly need that. This is
about getting people to get it – to see how this project can have real
value. To help them see that the annual meeting can be more than the
same old event, with a tweaked agenda, but that it can be a catalyst
for organizational change. In short, your task here is to get people to
love the project the way you do. (Hint, if you haven’t done #2, this is
going to be hard!) This will not only get you the official resources
you need but will lead to all sorts of other help coming your way.
People want to work on juicy stuff – and your project will have the
4. Chunk the plan. I said
chunk, not chuck! You need a plan for your project. But too often the
plan is too big and too rigid. Take your plan and turn it into smaller
tasks. Use the plan like a road map. When I open my atlas it has views
of the whole country, an individual state and of some cities. Your plan
should expand and contract like that too. Don’t forget to build the
city maps – because in your projects that is where the real work gets
done - one well designed task at a time.
Finish strong. Too many projects don’t quite finish. They had a good
plan. They got most of the way there, but the bow never got put on the
present. You have a project that you love, so you will always finish
strong, right? You will have sold the project and its possibilities so
people will be anxious to move you on to the next big thing. Resist
this temptation until you finish strong. Make sure the project delivers
on as much of your initial vision as it possibly can. Then celebrate
6. Put in the effort.
Any project that you love is going to require a lot of effort. If you
love it, it might not always feel like work – but it will still take
lots of energy, focus, and sweat. If you want the project to make a
difference, be willing to invest in it.
the lessons in these five areas (plus the all-important #6) and
continuing to strengthen these skills are one of the best ways to
develop your value both to your current organization and in the
marketplace. Organizations need people who can get their hands around
work and turn it into great results. Starting today, that is you.
is Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group
(http://KevinEikenberry.com), a learning consulting company that helps
Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting
and speaking services. Kevin publishes Unleash Your Potential, a free
weekly ezine designed to provide ideas, tools, techniques and
inspiration to enhance your professional skills. Go to
http://www.kevineikenberry.com/uypw/index.asp to learn more and
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