Yesterday, over a cup of coffee, my friend asked me about my first book and what was my approach towards writing it. I said that I took “project approach”.
This lead to an immediate realization that everything we do is a project, be it loosing your weight, writing a book, painting your home, getting a degree or managing an improvement initiative. For any effort where you have goals, time line, constraints, dependencies, risks and need of resources to be managed – you have a project on your hand. Learning fundamentals of project management is essential for everybody – irrespective of whether you are a project manager or not.
All successful leaders have been great project managers too – they may not have used the formal project plan or a work breakdown structure – but who says project management is only about these essential formalities. Project management is about having a vision, drawing out a plan, leading (others or ourselves), making progress, tracking the direction, managing dependencies, overcoming constraints and most importantly – delivering results.
Here is a simple method of how you can take a “project view” for things you are working on.
- Know your goals (Vision): Lets say you want to pursue a certification in your field. Now, that’s a goal – a project for you. Name it as “Project Certification”. It is also very important to know “why” you are pursuing this goal and how will it help you advance in your life/at work/in organization. Create a list of such goals, prioritise them and take top 3 goals as projects you would work on.
- Categorize all your work under these goals (Work Breakdown): Once you have a project defined, decide on phases/activities involved in achieving this goal. For certification, you can have a phase named “Preparation” with activities like identifying the scope, body of work, spending time learning, special training needed etc. Create such phases (milestones) and have core activities in each phase.
- Create a list of actions (Plan): Now that you know the activities, draw out a basic plan. Give a tentative timeframe to each activity and you’ll know how much time it will take for you to get certified. Identify the resources you will need to get into action e.g. books, training material etc. You can use MS Excel or Google Spreadsheet to draw out these basic plans. Remember – that which does not get scheduled does not get done!
- Act on the plan (Execute): Start executing the plan – this is where the rubber meets the road. Work on the activities and keep ticking them in plan as they get done. Enjoy the process of working on these activities without getting overwhelmed by the results.
- Track these actions (Control): Periodically, track your progress. This will give you an idea of what are additional actions / resources you need.
- Celebrate (Closure): Once you achieve a phase, celebrate. Give yourself a break, relax, unwind and retrospect. What could you do better in next phase so that results are better.
I consider my blog as a project which has a calendar. Initiatives I undertake at work are all planned (and viewed) as projects. This view is very potent – because it helps me push my own goals forward. You can try it out too.
“But this is all common-sense and discipline!”, you’d say. Well, that is what project management is all about!
Have a Fantastic Friday!