Posts Tagged ‘managing’

Managing a project requires actions

by Guy Ralfe on August 4, 2010

I recently had to jump in and manage a project in deep distress. The project was 5.5 weeks into an 8 week schedule and the project was only barely 20% complete. This was a construction project so easier to measure completion than say IT projects.

When I jumped into the project we were about to be removed from the project, I begged for 48 hrs to produce a recovery plan but settled on a compromise of 24 hrs – this was my first commercial construction project so not much time!  In discussing the situation with the general contractor, they kept on telling us how far behind schedule we were against the original (baseline) project plan. This was the original project plan laid out before the project began.

The conversation was just hopeless to the situation – telling me how late each section is; does not give any direction with which to act to remediate the situation. When I asked what were the priorities and what dependencies existed I received the response “they are all critical!”

When the plan was originally built it was obviously constructed based on a number of constraints and priorities known at the time. Today those priorities were in a very different arrangement due to the impact of not having various sections complete that have an impact on others also working on the project.

What I set about doing was to produce a plan, a recovery plan, that defined the work that needed to be completed and by when based on current priorities so that it still remained a comprehensive plan. This plan set out the new objectives and the “new reality” we needed to produce for a satisfactory outcome – with this defined it was shared with the team who now knew what was required. Looking at the project this way provided tangible targets to manage the resources and production against. The obvious problem was – being told you are late yesterday and again today does not provide you any point of reference with which to act.

Another successful tactic we used was not to focus on the small details but rather identify the three or four key fronts we needed to make progress on and constantly reevaluated the plan every day to determine if we had made enough progress… and also, did we need more people and could we shift the load around between teams?

This was a recovery plan but in essence it is no different than it should be for any project correctly managed. Projects are living and evolving ecosystems – a plan helps us anticipate the future and organize a number of people/organizations for the execution of the project. What we need to remember is that when the situation no longer reflects the plan the plan needs to be adjusted and some actions need to take place as a result or the outcome cannot be the same. To manage projects you need to manage the project and not just read the plan!

Assessment, Assessment, Assessment

by Guy Ralfe on November 18, 2009


I am sure we have all experienced how when we meet someone for the first time we draw a gut feeling about someone – the saying goes “first impressions count!” What many people don’t realize is how this impression affects their decision making.

Let’s say we go in to buy a car at a dealership, the smooth looking salesman walks over and introduces himself and immediately gets down to business of asking pointed questions so that he can make the quick kill sale. Your immediate reaction is to draw a negative impression about this individual and you prepare yourself for the situation ahead of prying questions and being cornered into signing on the dotted line! Our muscles tense, our bullshit meter goes into the red and we physically begin shutting down. We would challenge everything they claim and scrutinize every detail of the paperwork presented to us – if we even got any further with the individual.

What then if the same salesman cracked a joke about his approach saying he was only joking, just wanted to see our reaction and then graciously introduced himself and offered his help in an open and friendly manner. Provided we see the funny side of the situation we would have our bodies relax, we might then engage in conversation and move forward in working with the salesman. What we will find is that as the salesman addresses us by name and provides references we trust or believe we may then begin to like interacting with the salesperson.

Are we losing our minds? Here are the same two people coming together for the same reason under the same situation and yet the situation changed so much in the way we wanted to interact. I am sure most people can associate to a similar situation in their lives if not often.

Now let’s look at the results of these two situations –later when the buyer asks does the car have climate control? The sales man replies and says “yes, it has air conditioning”. To the piqued buyer at the initial reaction, they will inquire further – does it automatically adjust and how many zones does it have? The salesman can then answer that “no that is only available on the next model up costing $X more”. To the buyer when they had warmed to the salesman and were now trusting of the salesman, they will accept the response and likely ask another question, but in their mind they will have come to the conclusion that they have an electronic climate control with the features they envision.

This is not about the stereotypical auto salesman or placing in doubt the ethical nature of the sale – the issue is that the buyer comes to believe that they are told by the salesperson that they have climate control when the salesman answered “air conditioning”.

I see this happening in many areas of business. For me it shows up often on projects where people build up their own interpretation of what the future situation will be based on their wants and desires – this can be a shock when they confront reality and realize that the situation they were expecting was based on assessments they drew, from their own answers.

Life is too short not to make gut decisions – so where decisions matter to you, make sure you have a good assessment for granting someone your trust, then ask the questions you need to make the right assessment.

Providing ROI

by Himanshu Jhamb on June 10, 2009

roiI just got back from a 3 day conference where I met some of the most accomplished individuals in the business world. Many of them were successful entrepreneurs who had started companies, failed time and again… and then succeeded. Many were leaders in executive roles in their organizations. The conference had a few break out sessions which were led by some of them. I couldn’t help but notice how they moved around and conducted themselves. Here are some of their actions and what they meant to me:

  • They made every effort to be On time – Indicates to me a deep respect for my opportunity cost of meeting with them, (i.e. they cared about the opportunities participants had to forego to attend their session).
  • They came Prepared for the sessions they led – This gave them an opportunity to produce high Returns (increased productivity, learning) On Investment (Time, Money, Energy) for the participants.
  • They opened with a question ‘Why are you here?’ – This gave them an opportunity to generate relevance for the participants.
  • They kept the session interactive – This kept the participants engaged & interested.
  • They closed with an actionable request – This gave the participants an opportunity of putting into practice (in real life) what they learnt.
  • Imagine the increase in productivity in whatever you do, if all the meetings and sessions were run with these fundamental tenets in mind, regardless of if you were a participant or the leader.

    Imagine the ROI!

    …I’ll leave you with that thought to reflect upon!