Never enough hours in the day when following ideas!

So many things to accomplish; so little time to accomplish them: How to manage use of time is key to successful accomplishment of objectives.

Note that we say “Manage Use of time” and not “Time Management“: No one has yet succeeded in “Managing Time” per se; however, how you “Use Time” is very amenable to planning hence managing how you use this irreplaceable asset is just one key to reaching objective success.

That said, nothing beats having a plan apart from creating a plan BEFORE diving into the next big objective.

So let’s quickly consider what needs to be addressed within a plan:

  1. What is it that you want to accomplish?
  2. By when?
  3. Can the overall objective be broken into manageable sub-task chunks?
  4. What resources do you need:
    1. People?
    2. Materials/Tools/Software?
    3. Resources/Facilities/Equipment?
    4. Knowledge/Expertise?
    5. Funds?
  5. And how are you going to obtain them?
  6. How, when and to whom will you communicate progress/status?
  7. How will you know if you are on budget/time?
  8. How will you know you have successfully achieved your objective?

Plans come in many different degrees of complexity from scribblings on a napkin at the dinner table to full blown project plans using tools such as Microsoft’s Project Management software or other either simpler approach – such as creating a task/time chart using XL or using a more esoteric package to create an in-depth Critical Path Analysis plan.

While “complexity” in the detail included in the plan may no more guarantee successful outcome than does the simple “napkin” version unless the development being undertaken is, itself, comprised of a complex integration of technologies and tasks, the greater the clarity, readability and understandability of the resultant “road map leading towards to the target” the greater the chance of actually arriving at the target destination and also in doing so in a managed fashion with awareness of time and money consumption versus budgets.

At the same time, this does not mean that a plan, to be successful, may not be updated as new information comes to hand ~ in the course of every project there will be some situation or circumstance revealed that could not have been anticipated before hand and adjustments must necessarily be made to deal with those issues ~ however, the direction of the plan itself must not be changed or forgotten if the originally stated target is still the ultimate destination or that destination will either not be reached or otherwise may be reached only after incurring serious cost and time overruns.

Another factor to consider in laying out a plan, especially if the end result is likely to be some time away from the starting point and also reached only after considerable expenditure of time, money and effort, is to establish milestones/check-points at strategic stages along the development path where the results achieved thus far can be evaluated against the original business plan/objective to ensure that the end goal still has value as a business objective and that the result at the milepost is, itself, a viable component or sub-product of the desired end result. An excellent example of an enormously expensive, long-time to deployment, completely missed the target mistake has been detailed by Steve Blank in his blog discussing the ill-fated Iridium project.

The ideal plan, in breaking up a complex project into smaller manageable and verifiable result chunks, is to set the milestones at points of completion representing production of a Minimum Viable Product or MVP in the parlance of Eric Ries and successive proponents of “The Lean Startup“. In this fashion, if, upon reaching a designated milestone, it is discovered that market feedback indicates that circumstances now favor taking a new direction, then a purposeful Pivot, meaning a smart/informed direction change, can be made to avoid wasting any more valuable time and/or resources on pursuing a target that has subsequently been shown to be no longer viable; i.e. unlike Iridium, one can cut losses and strategically redirect efforts to a more viable outcome before any remaining resources are used up in otherwise continuing to pursue a lost cause outcome.

Incidentally, our current day Project Management Methodology ~ as promulgated by PMI for example ~ originated from joint-nation missile systems development projects. It originated as the outcome of collaboration between the British and American Navies in looking for a solution to manage the demands of very complex, bleeding-edge technology development involving an enormous number of entities, facilities, resources and money.

Obviously there is much more to this topic but this is enough for an opening gambit. If you have a Project Management situation where you would like to have some professional help, please feel free to Click Here to Create an MISSI Help-Desk Request.

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  • Peter Beddows

    Just added DISQUS to help with management of discusion threads in this blog.

  • Peter Beddows

    Just added DISQUS to help with management of discusion threads in this blog.