The secret to getting things done

Don’t make things bigger than they are by labeling them with big words.

Change the company culture? Do a huge project?
Don’t. Not if you can help it.

Change management at the office

Change at the office | Image HikingArtist

Unless you have exactly the right people who will get things done without blinking. Because they know all the right people, and they know how to get those people to do whatever needs doing, and they definitely ‘know the ropes’. You know the type. It’s the type that’s rapidly approaching their retirement. In their stead, you get ‘really big project experts’. Six foot Sigma. Mean. The Artist Formerly Known As PRINCE2. They’ll get things done, in their own way.

A couple of steps to get (most) things done

If you liked the traditional way things worked without getting complicated, or if you don’t have the budget for teams of project managers and project managers’ project managers, or in fact if your boss just ran in yelling she needed you to do X for her by noon tomorrow, you could do worse than to jot down a couple of things to organize the mess you need to deal with.

  1. What do we need/want to achieve by [insert end date here]?
  2. What do we need to get done in order to achieve that?
  3. What tasks need doing, who can do what?
  4. When does each task need to be finished? What tasks have to wait for others to be finished?
  5. If you dislike risk, ask yourself for each task: what could go wrong? What are the odds? How bad would it be? How can we avoid the risks (if the risks are bad enough for you to spend energy on avoiding them)?
  6. If you dislike the amount of work involved (“there must be an easier way”), ask yourself: why do we need to do this? Is this goal really worth the effort? Are there other ways to reach this goal? And finally: would it, based on skills, job description and the like, make sense to have a different person or team do this?

Work your way from the end date back to today (unless you did a successful #6). By the time you’ve done that, you’ll know what needs doing this week, and whether there are tasks down the line you haven’t got the right skills to do successfully. Which is a lot better than imagining you’re zooming along nicely only to end up crashing head-long into your deadline.

Nearly everything in the list is part of project management, no matter what it’s called: PRINCE2, Lean, et cetera. And these aspects should be part of project management for one simple reason.

A project is like building a house (and building a house is quite a project). You tend to run into similar fundamentals like: put the foundation in before you build the house on top. The color of the bathroom tiles and the look-and-feel of your living room is a secondary matter. It’s what you think about a lot, and it’s what visitors will see at your house-warming. Underneath, the same fundamental issues have been taken care of – hopefully so well you’ll never need to think about them.

Oh, and number 6 is one I borrowed from time management.

It’s a job. No need to make it more complicated than it is.

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