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The Stepping Stones of Successful Project Management

Project management is often something that organizations believe is "nice to have", a "luxury", or "too much overhead to bother with". This always makes me smile because I know a secret that these groups have yet to uncover. While words definitely matter, simply not naming something doesn't mean it doesn't exist and often these groups are actually using project management even though they don't realize that this is the case. Project management goes with business as much as peanut butter goes with jelly, socks go in shoes, and any other cliche grouping one would want to use.

This is because the essential elements of project management focus on getting something accomplished, and keeping the people involved as happy as possible during the change. When we do not use these tools, ideas, concepts, and practices initiatives often fail, but the great news is that we can easily start using them without changing too much about our daily life.

Why would we undertake any important change without planning for it? Would one simply choose to go to college and then let the winds carry them there without a plan? Does one buy a house without thinking through where and how to make this happen? How about getting married, having children, starting a business, or moving to a new home, how well do any of those go without at least thinking about how to progress from point A to point B?

Luck can only take us so far, and that is where project management can step in to make sure we achieve our goals.

Over the past few years, I have crafted a philosophy to help individuals manage the changes I mention above, as well as many others that come at us throughout life. I call it the Essential Elements of LifeTM because these lessons and plans focus on the most essential transitions humans encounter and share the secret of how to conquer each one.

Our 'Stepping Stones' make up the first four Essential Elements. Coexisting with Change, Examining Expectations, Deliberating Decisions, & Embracing Emotions all surround the most basic items that all beings will deal with during their time on earth.

These same concepts can be helpful when establishing a project management strategy in any organization. While this may sound a bit "fluffy" or abstract I trust you it is not. So, let us take a few moments and discuss how the Stepping Stones within the Essential Elements of LifeTM can be translated to the Stepping Stones of Project Management.

Stepping Stones

Coexisting with Change. The first Essential Element. Change is something that no one being on this earth can escape from as we all will go through multiple changes during our life. The overall idea when learning to coexist with change is to learn our internal capacity for flexibility, and how best to strengthen it in order to release or remove stress from our lives. Learning to Coexist with Change is an extremely important step to deciphering what is needed to reach our goal.

Examining Expectations. Not all expectations are equal, and this Essential Element focuses on uncovering the differences between realistic and unrealistic expectations. Not understanding expectations, especially those that are unspoken or assumed, can suffocate our success and leave us feeling that we are continuously trying to hit a moving target. Learn how to cope, reset, and flourish by examining and deciphering the expectations that can steer us off course.

Deliberating Decisions. This Essential Element helps us create healthy boundaries and establish accountability. While decisions can be scary, not making them allows external forces to decide our direction. We must work to understand the pitfalls and barriers to making the important decisions in life, and this means clearly defining each initiative or goal we would like to undertake.

Embracing Emotions. Our current life of constant change and surface-level honesty leaves us with few tools with which to assess, understand and manage the emotions that have risen so close to our skin in this over-stressed environment. When we ask about the emotions of our project team, clients, and other stakeholders we show people they are more than just a function or a role - we show them that they matter and we need them on our team to succeed. All of this breeds a healthy environment where synergy grows and people care about the outcome.

​Essential Element of Life

Lesson Learned

Translation to Project Management

A successful outcome:

Coexisting with Change

Flexibility & Forecasting

  • Define what is ending & what is beginning

  • Determine who is affected & how

  • ​ Determines what is ACTUALLY happening (not our imagined state)

  • Uncovers externalities of the change

  • Prepares for emotional reactions to change

Examining Expectations

​Clarity & Certainty

  • What does each person involved expect from this change?

  • Which of these expectations may be unrealistic?

  • Roots out unrealistic ideas or expectations about what this project will accomplish, reveal, or provide

Deliberating Decisions

Understanding & Accountability

  • Determine the: Why, When Where, Who and What will happen

  • Creates an outline for the project

  • Creates metric accountability

  • Defines the playing field for the duration of the change

Embracing Emotions

Empathy & Compassion

  • Discuss how this change affects others both internally and externally

  • Provide an environment for teams to coalesce and bond

  • ​Change is smoother due to anticipation of emotional reactions

  • Teams are stronger, have higher morale, synergy is created

Using these techniques and asking these questions at the beginning of each initiative your organization takes on can improve the chance of success in reaching its goals. The most important part of any project is the beginning and these concepts help to get us started on the right foot. At Maven Source International we use the Essential Elements of LifeTM in everything we do and we strongly believe they are a major part of our overall success.

Want more information?

  • Find more on project management by taking a look at our new class offerings here

  • Take a look at our services to see what else Maven Source Consulting can offer your firm.

  • If you would like more information on the Essential Elements of Life

  • Check out our Blog - Emotional Connections - and available Programs

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