Don’t Give Me What I Asked For, Give Me What I Need!

If I advocate for finding what can go right with your project, and I help you manage the project, I should start with getting a clear understanding of the outcome you expect.  What is the best possible outcome from the time and money and effort you will expend on your project?  Why are you doing it, really?  What will be different, in the best possible way, when you are done?  What do you want the journey from here to there to be like?

Notice, I used the word “outcome,” not “scope.”  I think “outcome” goes beyond “scope.”  Continue reading


It’s been a cloudy rainy week here in the great Pacific Northwest.  I need some sunshine!  It lifts our mood and makes the flowers bloom.  Your projects need sunshine, too.

Your project is most likely part of something greater, part of an organization, a contributor to its business objectives.  Do you understand that connection and how you are dependent on it?  I think that every project’s success depends on the support it gets from its owning organization.  Part of finding what can go right on a project is to describe the ideal amount of support that you need.  Support from the organization, like sunshine on flowers, grows successful projects.  The better you understand the support needed, the more likely you are to deliver a successful project. 

One way to think about factors supporting project success is to consider adding a new plant to your garden.  Sometimes I’ll see a great new plant and think how good it would look here and there around our big yard.  My wife says to buy at least three and spread them around to see where they will do best.  She’s right.  While we can control to some extent the water, soil, and nutrients the plant gets; we can’t control the sunshine.  The sunshine ultimately forms the plant’s microclimate.  Too much or too little sunshine and you get an unhealthy plant.  The problem with projects is that you can’t buy three and spread them around.  When we plant a project, we have to get it the support it needs.   Continue reading

“We’re Engaged!”

I heard those two enchanting words a few weeks ago from my nephew and his wonderful girlfriend.  Immediately, I could imagine all the eventful things that would happen between then and the August wedding.  Weddings are pretty big projects, after all.  Dozens, maybe hundreds, of people make changes in their lives to come together in celebration of a new life for two people they love.  Those making the plans set objectives, constraints, and timelines.  They identify stakeholders and strategies, find people they can assign work to, and then they make commitments and get things done. And they do it with the sort of zeal, creativity, and commitment that is part of the most successful non-wedding projects.  All this comes from the power of those first two words – “We’re engaged!”

Who really becomes engaged when an engagement happens?  Is it just the future bride and groom?  I think it’s everyone who will be at the wedding or who will help the couple celebrate in some way.  Their collective engagement makes the whole event special Continue reading