A brilliant example of creativity, passion, hard work and luck.
Project governance is neither a fun nor a simple concept to implement. Some organizations do this very well and have elaborate, multi-level, processes that ensure proper vetting, prioritization, oversight and funding. Other organizations have little-to-no governance and do everything by the seat of their pants with varying levels of success. Most IT professionals will tell you that some level of governance is necessary and those same professionals will be happy to share at least one (or perhaps many) examples of a time where the governance process ground their project to a halt for no viable reason.
I am one of those that believe some level of governance is needed for successful project implementation and have developed a short-form Project Initiation and Project Closure document that I have found useful when organizations do not have (or do not want) a full-scale governance process.
Project Initiation Document – A two-page template that lays out the very basics of the project: details, team members, objectives, success metrics, scope, and a signature block. The template does not include assumptions, risks and mitigation plans, project plans, or resource plans. It is assumed that those are being handled in other forms or may not be deemed necessary.
Project Closure Document – A two-page template that lays out the same basics as the Project Initiation Document but adds options to identify if objectives and success metrics have been met by the project.
No project documentation should be used as a club to beat a colleague or client over the head with (although some project managers do just that) but, rather, should signify a meeting of the minds and an agreement on how to define and measure the success or failure of a project. Neither should project governance be viewed as red tape that adds no value to the operations of an organization.
Perseverance. Patience. Stick-to-it-ness. Staying the course. Whatever you want to call it, the will to keep going in the face of what feels like unrelenting opposition is hard.
With the baseball teams I coach I talk about the most important pitch being the next pitch. It does not matter what just happened because you cannot go back in time and change it. What does matter is that you get ready for the next pitch and try your best to not make the same mistake again. I came across this quote by Jacob Riis that I really like and that speaks directly to this thought:
When nothing seems to help, I go back and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it–but all that had gone before.
As a leader, it is challenging to take the path of the stonecutter, putting in tremendous effort day after day with what appears to be little to show for your work until, one day, the stone spits in two and you get the lasting result you want. Keep at it. You will get where you want to be, even if it takes longer than you think it should, because you have fought the good fight and won the day.
As I have worked with college students and young professionals I find myself increasingly talking with them about professional branding. There are plenty of article online regarding Millennials and their penchant to #overshare but, rather than focus on the negative, I try to focus on the positive aspects of professional branding.
- LinkedIn – I was one of the first 100,000 members to join LinkedIn (#87,019 to be exact) and was found by a recruiter at HCA through the service. Having a complete profile that is regularly updated is a must for all professionals.
- Twitter – I was fortunate to grab @ZachEvans long before I ever started to use the service and have developed some great professional relationships solely based on a re-tweet or a mention of another user. I do not have a separate account for my personal and professional lives so I carefully monitor what goes up on my feed.
- Facebook – I closely monitor what goes on my Facebook profile just like I do with Twitter. While not overly professionally-focused, users that think their employers (or potential employers) will not do basic online research on their profiles had better be ware.
- Personal Web Site – I did not grab the ZachEvans.com domain name as quickly as I would have liked to (hence my personal web site being www.ZachEvans.org) but my site has been a positive addition to my professional brand. Not only does it provide me with a creative outlet for my writing, but also serves as an online portfolio of the work that I have done in my career.
- Awards – I always recommend that, if someone is kind enough to nominate you for an award, you had better give your best to try to win it. Being named one of the Nashville Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2014 raised my professional profile and has provided me with a platform to rapidly to grow my professional network.
- Conferences – I certainly recommend that all professional attend appropriate conferences–they are a great place to network–but I also recommend that, as you grow in your career, you make yourself available as a speaker or panel member at conferences. Not only will this provide great professional exposure, but it will also allow you to polish your presentation and public speaking skills.
- Professional Organizations – Membership in a professional organizations should be more than just a line on your resume. Involvement, volunteering for committee assignments, and generally giving back to the organization will raise your profile in your industry and provide you new connections.
I always end my conversations with the thought that it is never too early to start building your professional brand and you must guard it jealously throughout your career.
In my professional life, I serve as a consultant on several projects at any time. Part of my role in relation to the management of this project portfolio is to provide input on prioritization. All organizations have limited resources to spend on projects and analytical tools can help inform decisions leaders are faced with in regards where to allocate these resources.
One such tool that I developed and have used successfully is a project scorecard that analyzes several dimensions of a project, assigns a relative weight to each dimension, and provides a recommend project rank based on the overall score of a project. This particular scorecard looks at the following project dimensions:
- Number of departments impacted
- Revenue impact
- Quality impact
- Safety impact
- Project sponsor
- Projected cost
- Existing installations (in other divisions of the company)
Based on your needs or organization, the dimensions analyzed would vary greatly, but the value behind the tool would not. Furthermore, I would not recommend making decisions based solely on a tool such as this, but would use its outputs as one data point (although, perhaps, one that carries a great deal of weight).
Are you in need of having a tool like this built for your organization or do you have other questions as to how a tool such as this could be implemented? Please contact me for more information.
Related files: Project Scorecard
As I have progressed in my career and taken on ever-increasing amounts of responsibility, my professional network has changed. I have moved from a net-taker to what should be a net-giver. Put another way, I am being sought out more frequently to help others where once I was the one doing most of the outreach. It is not that I have stopped doing outreach–quite the contrary–it is that I am being consulted more than I am asking for consultation.
During this transition, I have found myself wanting to set some ground-rules for how I will react to these requests for help. I feel a great sense of the debt I owe to my network for all of the assistance they have provided me throughout the years. When I moved to Nashville to attend Lipscomb, I knew almost no one and needed to quickly develop a network of contacts that could help launch my career. Thankfully, I was successful.
So far, I have developed three rules that I am committing to live by when it comes to my network and how I will value it:
- I will value my network by returning all phone calls within one business day.
- I will respect my network’s time by not rescheduling meetings unless absolutely necessary.
- I will honor my network by giving constructive feedback in a prompt and courteous manner.
I am pledging to value my network with my time by making myself available and by providing meaningful feedback to those within it. I will, through each individual interaction, give back bit by bit to honor those that have invested so heavily in me.
Benjamin Franklin is credited with first speaking the famous words:
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
Many have lived their lives by this maxim and have become more productive because of it. Other productivity gurus will encourage you to do your most distasteful task first each day so that it is out of the way and you will not have you dread doing it (and be distracted by it).
I agree with both of these principles if your goal is maximum productivity. I also believe, however, that as leaders sometimes the best thing we can do is to put off until tomorrow something that can be done today.
Leaders often find themselves in emotionally-charged situations. Justified or not, appropriate or not, these situations demand that the leader take a step back, attempt to remove as much of the emotion from the situation as possible, and respond in as productive a manner as possible. Respond too quickly to a situation fraught with emotion and you may find yourself wishing you had let just a bit of time pass before you answered.
Wait an hour before hitting send on the email reply, thereby allowing yourself time to re-read and edit your text. Put off until tomorrow the crucial conversation you need to have with your rouge employee about their response to another leader so that you have time to craft a reasonable response.
Take a deep breath, calm some of your own emotions, and you will be much happier with your response to the difficult situation as well as the response of others to you.