LearnShareProsper logo Boosting Business_Performance Adele Sommers
by Adele Sommers, Ph.D.
 www.LearnShareProsper.com Adele@LearnShareProsper.com 
In This Issue

August 2020
Volume 16, Issue 8

These are monthly tips on boosting business and professional results.

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Note from the Author

Do You Have a Big Problem-Solving Wrench?

Woman holding a wrench
What’s your favorite
decision-making technique?
Don’t have one in particular? No worries. Just get ready to strap on your tool belt!

In today’s issue, we'll explore ways to handle the tricky challenges of working on projects that are attempting to accomplish too many things with too little time.

This topic is particularly timely since many organizations, as well as independent professionals, are in the midst of seeking, starting, managing, or completing a plethora of critical projects packed with tradeoffs and variables.

That’s why many projects and transitions must involve planning, replanning, and making prudent adjustments based on new information. Having tools to achieve this smoothly and gracefully can make all the difference between the perception of success and the perception of failure. (Note that it’s often how you frame the logic you’ve used in making decisions that influences how other people perceive whether your efforts have been successful.)

I hope you enjoy this month’s features, and as always, please be sure to join the ongoing conversations by leaving your comments on my Facebook page!

Here’s to your business prosperity,

Adele Sommers, Ph.D., business improvement specialist, author, educator, and award-winning instructional designer

P.S. If you missed any previous issue, please visit the newsletter archive!

Special Message

A Handy Quick-Reference Guide for Project Managers

"The Advanced Project Management Memory Jogger" by GOAL/QPC
I’m a big fan of GOAL/QPC’s (GoalQPC.com) Memory Jogger pocket guides, and the Project Management series is one set of them.

Per GOAL/QPC, the original Project Management Memory Jogger (second edition) is a great source for projects at the individual or team level. In contrast, the Advanced Project Management Memory Jogger assists the project managers at the organizational or strategic level.

This book expands the experienced project manager’s knowledge of the core concepts in project management, such as scheduling, risk, team building, communication and negotiation skills, project control, and much more.

Feature Article

Tips for Overcoming Project Overload
by Adele Sommers

It’s two weeks before the deadline. But your project is at least six weeks behind! Everyone is sweating bullets. As the project leader, you’re wringing your hands. A volcano of surprises has erupted since the project launched three months ago. And in contrast to everyone’s prognostications, no one foresaw the lava flow of trouble ahead!

Project leader stumpedYour dilemma: Information that was supposed to be available in Week 2 won’t be known for another full month. Parts of the system that were designed to work one way are really working another. A key expert you needed to provide critical details went on extended leave right after the project launch. And that’s just scratching the surface!

So today, that simple-looking undertaking that your crystal ball said should only take four weeks of work beckons from a distant horizon. The funding might soon be cut off. And management will surely panic if it’s not finished for the scheduled unveiling. You can sense disaster looming, yet everyone feels helpless. So, what can you do?

This article explains how to get out of “project overload” and restore sanity to your endeavor. It may be time to regroup and swiftly chart a new course.

But Wait! Couldn’t You Try a Last-Minute, Heroic Maneuver?

Last-minute superheroWell, you could, but should you? Yes, it’s only human nature to want to pull out all the stops, work 24/7, and pray that it will all come together.

Is it still possible to finish on time if you speed up your efforts, put more people on the project, or require the team to work 14 hours a day? And if you do, can you ever get completely caught up?

Let’s get real. You and your team will likely need to admit that there’s no way to achieve the original goals in the expected time frame. There are just too many loose ends. Key people and information sources are missing, and that creates gaping holes. Further, several parts of the system aren’t working correctly. How long will it take to fix those?

A misconception about projects is that you can remedy every late delay by adding people or increasing effort. In certain cases, you can. In others, adding people at the eleventh hour — or working around the clock at a frenzied pace — just brings chaos, frustration, errors, and exhaustion.

A project delivered with major gaps will seem seriously flawed if everyone compares it to the original plan. Here’s a powerful strategy that can make all the difference...

It’s Time To Reframe Success!

Project members jumping for joyReframe success? What exactly does that mean?

Well, initially, you and your team should have defined a set of key requirements for completing the project. There were four types of criteria involved (some of which may have been implied rather than overtly stated):

  • Time (the speed or schedule for doing the work)
  • Cost (in terms of the funding, the resources, or a combination)
  • Quality (how well the effort needed to be done)
  • Features (how many components or deliverables there were, and how complex)

On this project, however, it seems you’ve run into a common situation in which the features (and perhaps quality) have collided with time. There’s too much to get done on too short a schedule. It’s really no one’s fault; everyone was doing the best he or she could. There were just too many dynamic variables in play. When every aspect of a project is a moving target, it often feels like skateboarding on molten rock.

If you reframe success, however, you can reset everyone’s expectations toward a much more realistic set of goals.

Introducing the Project Diamond

Project diamond: Cost vs. Schedule vs. Quality vs. FeaturesIt’s not unusual for project sponsors or clients to want:

1) Low cost and
2) Fast completion and
3) High quality
4) Many features
in the final project deliverables.

Although it’s understandable to want the greatest value for the funding, usually it is only possible to achieve two or three out of four of these goals on a typical project. If both the budget and schedule are fixed, the tradeoffs would have to limit the quality, constrain the features, or both.

So the “disconnect” in this situation is that you won’t be able to complete everything you started out to do per the original schedule. The answer: Re-plan the tail end of the project so you can smoothly carry over the unfinished tasks to a later phase. This will involve determining which tradeoffs can help you accommodate the severe limitations in the remaining schedule — and will probably mean doing fewer things.

It’s a lot like ending a meeting on time when you still have unfinished business left on the agenda. Yes, everyone can agree to continue talking until all topics have been discussed. Or, you could choose to stop the meeting gracefully by deciding what to carry over to the next agenda. In fact, the earlier you can anticipate any potential need to do this on your project, the more your team and organization will benefit.

You Can Propose This Sanity-Saving Solution...

Chess pieces Not unlike plotting a game of chess, here’s a simple but effective strategy for smoothly rolling out a contingency plan:

Review and organize all of the tasks or deliverables into these categories:

  • “Must-have” within the current schedule, because they will be frequently used or high-impact items
  • “Nice-to-have” within the current schedule, but they could be postponed
  • Can’t even schedule certain activities until there is more information available

Also, determine whether the stakeholders would consider receiving delivery:

  • In phases, just in time for the deliverables’ first dates of actual use, or
  • As a pilot or series of prototypes to be tested first and refined later

With this technique, you and your client, management, and the project stakeholders have a flexible understanding of the priorities to be fulfilled — as well as any tasks or deliverables that would need to be jettisoned or deferred if or when the project runs out of time.

In conclusion, by reviewing your reprioritized list with your team and management, you can then make any changes needed. If you execute your plan accordingly, you’ll sleep soundly again at night!

Copyright 2020 Adele Sommers

The Author Recommends

The “Project Success Kit”

"Quick-Start Guide to Project Risk Management" by Adele SommersAre you looking for a compendium of ways to boost your team’s “risk management IQ”? Now you can gain “20:20 foresight” and stop unnecessary project failures due to expensive and avoidable risks.

My Project Success Kit contains a comprehensive collection of instantly downloadable “how-to” techniques that will walk you through a simple process of identifying, evaluating, and mitigating the most problematic project pitfalls using special tools, checklists, interactive worksheets, and best practices.

About the Author

"Straight Talk" Special Report
"Straight Talk" Workbook

Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the author of “Straight Talk on Boosting Business Performance” — an award-winning Special Report and Workbook program.

If you liked today’s issue, you’ll love this down-to-earth overview of how 12 potent business-boosting strategies can reenergize the morale and productivity of your enterprise, tame unruly projects, and attract loyal, satisfied customers. It’s accompanied by a step-by-step workbook designed to help you easily create your own success action plan. Browse the table of contents and reader reviews on the description page.

Adele also offers no-cost articles and resources to help small businesses and large organizations accelerate productivity and increase profitability. Learn more at LearnShareProsper.com.

LearnShareProsper.com/Business Performance_Inc.,
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