Over the years I have run my fair share of projects. Sometimes they go well and sometimes less so. As the William Clinton saying goes “If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.” So here my list of what to remember when running a project and how to keep driving forward. Not so much a checklist on how to deliver a project more a list on how not to go crazy delivering a project.
1. Have a plan. There is no point jumping into a project, job or program without a plan. So have a plan, share that plan and work that plan. That way all around you can see the goal, the direction of travel for the project and the steps that will be taken along the way. Which should help you ensure there are less surprises and better results.
2. Deliver through giving responsibility. Some may tell you it’s weak to admit you don’t know everything. I say not. Give responsibility to those who can deliver, give them the tools to do the work and be clear with them when they should come to you for guidance. Team members with the skills, tools and freedom to work are productive and awesome.
3. Drive for success. If it was easy anyone could do it, but ask yourself if it would be worth the bother. Big projects and hard jobs require effort and determination, but offer reward and new understanding. So set yourself to deliver, commit yourself to the task at hand and follow through. If it’s not that important to you then frankly don’t start. Because honestly you will probably make a hash of it and waste everyone’s time.
4. Accept setbacks. Plans are important, but there are days when the plan is just a list of stuff that does not happen. Know this before you start and accept it. So when it happens, you can get up, dust yourself off, show two fingers to the sky and keep going.
5. Don’t stop. Never give in, keep going and be the taskmaster who gets stuff done. Nobody else will take the credit when you succeed, but plenty will have a go if you don’t.
6. Review, evaluate and adapt. Don’t hold back in delivery, but also don’t drive forward blindly. Beware of driving on when a rethink will get the job done with less effort. Periodically consider what’s going well, what is not going so well and what you could do differently. Plans can be changed as well as methodology, so don’t be a slave to the plan.
7. Enjoy. This is what you signed up for and if it’s not, well tough. There is a job to be done and you will be more successful if you embrace and enjoy the task. Show consideration, be positive and a pleasure to be around.
8. Detail, detail, detail. Know your objective, have the plan and deliver the goal. But accept that some details may not be known at the beginning. Work to drive out the detail and find answers. Assumption may not kill you but they can certainly kick you. So ask questions, ask more questions and oh yes keep asking questions.
9. Never stop talking. Communication is king and will reward you. Tell people they are great, tell them when they are not and tell them where you’re going, where you have got too and what is left to be done. Keep talking, squeeze the flesh and smile.
10. Eyes on the prize. Whether you’re using a list, a big coloured chart or sticky labels on a calendar remember to focus on what done looks like. It’s easy to get locked into project creep by refining and improving what done looks like. So remember that every objective completed is a step closer to done and know when to stop.