nexus point | Leadership Development ~ Talent Management ~ Realising Potential

Project design framework

These are some key points to consider when setting out to design, implement, and fulfill on a project.

 

KEY POINTS OVERVIEW:

  1. WHAT IS THE INTENTION OF THE PROJECT?
  2. WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC RESULTS YOU INTEND TO PRODUCE?
  3. WHAT IS YOUR TIMEFRAME?
  4. WHAT ARE THE REASONS YOUR PROJECT WON’T WORK?  WHAT WILL GET IN THE WAY?
  5. WHAT ARE YOUR RESOURCES?
  6. DESIGN THE CONVERSATIONS TO GET PEOPLE ON-BOARD / CREATING THE TEAM.
  7. DESIGN THE COURSE OF ACTION.
  8. BUILD IN TIME-BUFFERS.
  9. CREATE EARLY WINS.
  10. DESIGN THE LINES AND GROUND-RULES FOR COMMUNICATION.
  11. CELEBRATE THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

 

NOW, THE DETAILS…

1.  What is the intention of the project?

  • What do you intend to accomplish?
  • Why are you doing it?
  • Why is it important to you?
  • What will happen if you do nothing in this area, or keep going the way you are going?
  • What will you and others get out of this being fulfilled?

 

2.  What are the specific results that you intend to produce?

  • including the time-frame in which you intend to produce the results.

 

3.  What is your time-frame?

  • Is it realistic?
  • You may need to make unreasonable requests – have people (including yourself)!  Even with that in mind, is it still realistic?

 

4.  What are the reasons that your project won’t work?  What will get in the way?

  • If you clearly identify the likely de-railers for your project, you can be fore-armed and deal with these issues before they come to bear!
  • And, note, if you spend ALL your time and attention dealing with the reasons why something won’t work, you’ll never got your actual project done!  You have to deal with this like a paradox – on one hand, deal with the reasons, and on the other hand, just get on with it!!

 

5.  What are your resources?

  • Time
  • Money
  • Physical resources/technology
  • People/Skills
    • Do you have enough people, and the right people, for the job?
    • Who are the hubs / centres of influence among staff – likely innovators / allies (these people will be the innovators / early adopters!) – these are the people to start with bringing on board with the new ideas.
    • Do the people have the skills required?
    • If not, what is your plan to provide / develop those skills?

 

6.  Design the conversations to get people on-board / creating your team.

  • What will motivate the people you will be working with?  You may need to pitch a conversation at a majority, and be ready to tweak it to the minority.
    • Eg some you will pitch detail to, others just an overall picture / vision.  Some you will pitch logic to, for others you will go through feelings.
  • What hooks will you use?
  • Don’t just go for alignment – generate attunement first!  (Tune in to what’s important to people at the level of emotion, as well as generating rational alignment!)
    • If you win people’s hearts first, the winning of their minds will be that much stronger! (And – do not confuse this with being NICE!  This is purely tapping into what really motivates and drives the people with whom you will be working!)
  • In designing the conversations, be clear on the:
    • Intention of conversation
    • Intention of course of action (specific)
    • What exactly is being proposed or requested
    • What’s in it for them (heart and mind!)
    • Is there any room for them to counter-offer the proposal (or even just decline it! – if so, consequences must be clear).

 

7.  Design the course of action.

  • Start with envisaging yourself at the end of the project.  Visualise this in detail:
    • where are you,
    • what is the date,
    • who else is there with you?
    • What are the results that have been produced?
    • How do you feel with that project being fulfilled?
  • Look backwards in time, and start to identify what action will have been taken to get you there:
    • the day before
    • 2 days before
    • 3 days before
    • 1 week before
    • 2 weeks before
    • 1 month before
    • 2 months before etc etc etc.
  • Who will take these actions?
  • Do they have the resources / support / training that they need to take these actions successfully?

 

8.  Build in time-buffers.

  • Where possible, build in more time than you think is necessary.  If your experience is anything like mine, what seems like the last 5% of a task can often blow out to feel like 20,30,40% of the whole project, sucking up time and resources disproportionately to the rest of the project.  This results in stress, exhaustion, and a generally unpleasant experience.
  • Look at adding extra hours, days, even weeks where possible to your time-line.  I often calculate my time-lines then add two weeks more than I think I should need.  That way, the impact of any breakdowns can often just be absorbed into the timeline with minimal detrimental impact on the people or the project.

 

9.  Create early wins!

  • This will allow you to build some momentum – not only in results, but in morale!
  • This can also contribute financial support to your project – depending on your project and its design!

 

10.  Design the lines and ground-rules of communication.

  • Who is accountable to who?
  • Who will communicate what to who, and by when?
  • What method(s) of communication will be used?
  • Are reminders necessary to prompt these communications?
  • Within what time-frame are all communications to be responded to?
  • Agree that when breakdowns are predicted or first detected, they will be communicated clearly and accurately to the relevant parties at the first available opportunity.  Also agree that all breakdowns will be dealt with sensibly and responsibly!
  • Design the frequency of meetings / review processes for works underway
    • Where meetings will occur
    • How long they will last
    • What preparation is required / expected
    • Who will be there

 

11.  Celebrate the accomplishments!

  • Don’t just save this for the end – celebrate along the way, acknowledge people’s performance, contribution, development (including your own!)!
  • AND make sure you celebrate at the end!  Designing this celebration as part of the completion is a very important part of your project!  Given that you started by ‘winning peoples’ hearts’, you had better end on the same note – and acknowledge the heart they have put in!  You may be surprised just how far even a little authentic acknowledgment will take you with your team!

©2010 Nexus Point

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