It’s team work that makes the dream work
Do you know where you’re going to?
Have you ever experienced a time when you wanted to hum a tune; you know the song but the tune just won’t come to mind? “You know, it’s the one that goes … ermmm … how does it go?” Even worse is when the lyrics to another song keep clouding your mind to keep the right tune at bay.
It was a cold evening in a hall not far from where I live; the band were playing and today I was operating the sound desk. The event had taken several months in planning and preparation, not to mention practice. We had a vision for what we wanted to do that evening, we were on a mission to raise some money for our chosen charity, a very deserving cause.
Earlier that afternoon I had set about the task of dismantling the entire sound system from its usual location and rebuilding it temporarily in a new venue. Prior to that we had inspected the venue and made a note of the location of the power sockets, and we had all the equipment we needed for tonight’s concert. The bar had been manned and the other refreshments had been bought and set up, tickets had been sold and everything was going according to plan.
Part way through the evening, as planned, I handed over control of the sound desk to a colleague and made my way from the back of the auditorium towards the stage, clutching my trusty electric violin. I was to be the feature for this number and join the band to play a jazz style improvised solo to accompany the vocalist, however, all I could remember was the first note I was to play. As I walked to the front of the hall all eyes seemed to turn to me, and as I stepped onto the stage the band fired up, and still all I could remember was the first note!
I played my note, and then the next came seemingly from nowhere, followed by the rest of the first line, and soon we were in full swing. Fortunately, the planning and practice paid off and no-one noticed my panic, and the piece was performed without incident.
This is when you appreciate the value of planning, preparation and practice. For the vision to become a successful reality every aspect of the plan needs to have been considered and thought through in advance.
“A project is a unique venture with a beginning and an end, conducted by people to meet established goals within parameters of cost, schedule and quality.”
~ Buchanan and Boddy
I have spent much of my career as a Project Manager in Control Systems Automation and I know very well the need for thorough planning to achieve a successful outcome to a project. I have also spent several years as a Trustee and Director of the Association for Project Management (APM) and chair of the local area committee, organising local talks and networking opportunities for colleagues in the profession.
The concept of Project Management as a discipline was developed for managing the US space programme in the early 1960’s and its practise has expanded rapidly since then. In the UK the APM has been instrumental in developing the profession of Project Management with the development of the “Body of Knowledge” that all Project Management professionals would be expected to know, and they now offer Chartered Engineer status for the Project Management profession.
John Maxwell refers to this as “The Law of Navigation” in the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership which states that leaders “… have a vision for their destination, understand what’s required to get there, and know whom they need on the team to be successful.”
“Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. Leaders keep an eye on the future, scanning the horizon for indications of which course appears the best. Then, based on what they see, they set the direction for the organisation.”
~ John Maxwell
A helpful framework to use when developing a project is to consider the aspects of Quality, Cost and Time (or Schedule) as shown in this triangle initially developed in the mid-1980s by Dr Martin Barnes.
The triangle demonstrates that quality, cost and time are interrelated. Focussing or fixing one point of the triangle impacts the other two points.
~ Dennis Lock
There are many tried and trusted techniques available to help with monitoring and control of these three factors, and the development of a Project Management Plan is helpful to document and record these plans as they evolve. Work Breakdown Structures and Cost Breakdown Structures, along with a clear definition of the desired deliverable outcomes are all necessary elements to produce a plan that has a good chance of producing the desired results.
The three factors of cost, quality and time can each be monitored and managed, but none can be controlled in isolation. Changes to any one of these factors will inevitably have an impact on the other two, and an important element to remember here is that you can manage things, such as cost, quality and time, but you need to lead people.
“If the leader can’t navigate the people through rough waters, he is liable to sink the ship … In the end, it’s not the size of the project that determines its acceptance, support and success. It’s the size of the leader.”
~ John Maxwell
Finally, when you have considered all the options and risks, developed the “All goes to plan” plan and invested in your people, you need to remember that plans are made to be changed. All project plans need regular mid-course corrections to stay on track and deliver the vision they were designed to fulfil.
What skills and experience do you have that will support the delivery of a successful project outcome? What are your strengths, and where are your weaknesses? In developing the plan to deliver your vision, make sure to consider who else you need to have on board for the journey. It’s team-work that makes the dream work!
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.