We live in the knowledge economy. Unlike the industrial economy, our inputs and outputs are much more difficult to define. Because of this, upfront clarity and planning are imperative to success.
How we help
We use a 5-stage project planning approach that is based on principles of how we intuitively achieve goals. These are fundamental to any project planning methodology.
Through a combination of interviews and facilitated group sessions, we work through the following stages with you and your team:
- Why do we even need to do this? What is the purpose?
- The Why provides the most basic reason for doing something and will serve as your compass to let you know if you are off track.
- Often, when projects go awry, one of the first questions asked is usually "Why are we even doing this in the first place?". If the purpose isn't clearly defined at it's most basic level upfront, it can have ripple effects and jeopardize the success of the project.
- In addition to The Why, it is essential to set realistic parameters if applicable. Some of these parameters might be budget or resource-based, or some other tangible element that is important to work within. We also consider what obstacles may undermine your goal so we can deal with those appropriately.
- Examples of The Why with parameters in projects:
- Improve customer satisfaction without implementing a large-scale system change
- Decrease product costs without impacting quality
- What does success look, feel, and sound like? Visualizing what success might look like in a tangible way is key is for two reasons:
- It lets your brain start to work on solutions subconsciously
- It will help you begin to pave a path of how to reach your goal
- How do we get there? Brainstorming allows you to close the gap between where you are today and your goal. The brain operates in two general thinking modes: focused and diffuse. In Stages 1 and 2, we utilize focused thinking. In this step, however, we switch to diffuse thinking to brainstorm ideas. This allows us to find connections and solutions that we may not otherwise see.
- Mindmapping is one method of enabling the brainstorming process. Most methods follow the same underlying principle—start with a blank slate and let your mind wander as it wishes without any imposed structure.
- In addition, it is good to consider potential roadblocks or challenges to ideas presented. Sometimes these roadblocks can unleash some of the best ideas and innovations.
- Pulling it all together. In probably the most intensive stage of all, we group and categorize similar themes and then sort through the components, priorities, and sequences of each to develop the project plan. We then refine as necessary to get to the final stage in the project planning process.
- The degree to which you organize depends on the level of complexity of the project—more complexity means more organization is required.
- Based on the project plan developed, we decide on next actions, owners, and deadlines for each of the active parts of the project and then move to action.
- Usually, not all components can be acted on, or the project plan needs further work. If this is the case, then we decide on a next action for the planning process and cycle through steps 4 and 5 as necessary until the project is complete.
Note: The project planning model above is heavily based on the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. While he provides much of his own methodology for personal productivity and project management in the book, it is based on a robust set of principles which he clearly explains throughout.