What is one “crucial” thing every project needs?
The right attitude… A “getting the job done” sort of attitude.
The world has always cried for men and women who can get the job done, for people who are pro-active and who can see that the important tasks are completed and are critical to a project. Project Management is about having the right scope in the right sequence at the best possible time to deliver a project. A project manager has this kind of urgency to get the project done, and they understand what needs to be done daily in order to deliver the results as expected by project stakeholders.
Success is not how much you know, success is what you get done. The result you deliver is what makes the project.
So how can you become a successful “delivery manager?” Usually the thing that holds a delivery manager apart from success is not a lack of brains, character or willingness, but rather the inability to get the project done.
The lack of focus and aimless wandering from one thing to another without clarity can be detrimental to a project, as well as not knowing what to do step-by-step. There may be a missing plan, or perhaps there is a lack of actions mapped that are aligned to the project deliverables. Regardless of what may be missing, if you have the right attitude these things usually sort themselves out because you are focused and ready to get things done.
If a person could change their mindset to that of a “go-getter” and grab the information they need to draft a clear action list, this could be the missing key in getting projects done. They would be able to collect the necessary details on the requirements and the deliverables so that the project becomes clear on what needs to be delivered.
One thing that has supported me many times in projects is to create a ‘project vision board’ or a patch system overview which I make available on my project meeting room wall. I also have the habit of crafting a one-page system integrated plan. This is a graphical overview with the key milestones and with the dependencies either within the project or activities outside the project or out of my control. Once this part is clear, then it is time to become a producer. This won’t be difficult if you have the right attitude.
In my recent projects I have met engineers who told me why we cannot proceed further. For example, just recently I was told we couldn’t move forward on a particular project because we needed to install some new equipment. It was my job as the project manager to turn their mindset around and find solutions in order to install the equipment.
My principle: To move forward in a project, it is sometimes helpful to “bulldoze” an action forward and just get it done, even if this means going forward without approval or complete documentation. Waiting for 100% documentation submission and 100% approval from all stakeholders may slow you down. There are sometimes arguments between protocol and doing what is necessary to keep the project moving. If doing what is necessary to keep the project moving outweighs the need for protocol, then I skip protocol. To some extent, common sense should rule over endless discussions and correspondence in a project. It is sometimes easier to ask for “forgiveness” and update the documents and drawings to “as built” rather than waiting for everybody’s approval. At least the job gets done within the timeframe. Once people can see the result, usually they are happy even if you didn’t follow the usual protocol.
Naturally, critical systems that are relevant to safety needs 100% testing without fail. Do not go ahead and take action on these items without going through the protocol first. It is up to you to determine clearly what is critical and what is just there to support, and when to stick to protocol or break it. Again, it is your attitude to move forward and find solutions, go and get the information to get the job done instead waiting for somebody to answer your questions.
How to Have a Go-Getter Attitude
To be a go-getter you don’t need to work harder; you need to work more efficiently and effectively. You must learn to make your work count. It’s the producers who raise the standard in projects, and who win the big share of the rewards. The producers are those people who have formed the habit of getting the job done and who will not permit the “almosts” to get them off course.
If you have a plan – like the one page plan I use- define your action list, add due dates and stick to it. Strong discipline and daily follow-up on your action items will make you a producer.
Naturally certain things will need approval. To get approvals for your work, prepare a simple presentation with the explanation of what you’re going to do. Use a simple timeline to explain the next few steps. Work with your client and communicate effectively on your planning to move forward. Yes, you need a design document, a drawing and a method statement sometimes, but in many cases nobody has even read your documents, and if they did it doesn’t mean they understand it. Therefore, make it simple with three (3) to five (5) slides of what you would like to accomplish and set a clear timeline to it. Be a producer; be confident that you can do it.
The best way to learn this “getting the job done” attitude is to master model a great project delivery person. Take an example from someone you can see who has mastered project management, time management, communication strategy, etc. Additionally, reading about self management, time management, and practicing every day to follow up on your actions, reminders, emails and calls will help you get projects done.