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Tag: Planning

‘Delay Thinking’ Is a Project Success Factor

Often, it is better to spend more time than it is to speed to meet a deadline. Fast is good but not always. When rushing to get something done the probability of causing damage is high.


Delay Thinking

Delay thinking recognizes that there is a delay or lag between an action and its effect. Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline says that “Delays can make you badly overshoot your mark, or they can have a positive effect if you recognize them and work with them.”

Figure 1 below is a diagram that explains the delay phenomena, he gives the example of the delay between the time you adjust the water temperature in the shower and the time the water reaches the desired temperature. If you understand the delay, you will make sure you don’t get doused in cold water or make the mistake of further turning up the hot.

Figure 1: Delayed Results[1]

What Does This Have to Do with Projects?

In both projects and operations, we make and act upon decisions. We set expectations among stakeholders about outcomes. We are expected to fix problems and do it fast.

Faced with problems we may seek quick fixes by applying solutions that worked in the past or in other organizations. We can be pressured into rushing ahead without doing the due diligence of assessing causes, multiple scenarios, and the impact of differences between the current situation and the ones in which a solution worked in the past.

In time bound projects, there is a tendency to overlook likely delays. For example, underestimating the time it takes to perform predecessor tasks when scheduling resources. The result is the cost of resources sitting idle while waiting for the results they need to proceed.

When we take delays into consideration expectations are realistic and problem resolutions end up making things better rather than worse.


Learning Curves and Change Management

For example, when a large organization implemented a system to reduce the effort of field managers by applying AI to automate their ordering process, they failed to recognize the delay caused by a combination of learning curves, manager resistance to a perceived loss of authority and autonomy, and the need to fine-tune the algorithm used to make ordering decisions. The result was avoidable chaos, supply chain disruption, and degraded performance. The new system was rejected.

The outcome would have been a far happier one had the project plan included a robust training process, “marketing,” and a calibration period with an incremental system rollout rather than a “big bang” implementation. All of these are “delays” that on the surface cause the project to run longer. Though more often than not, when looking below the surface these so-called delays save time, effort, money and reduce unnecessary stress.



What might cause failure to include delays in plans?

Everything has a cause and when we discover causes, we can better avoid repeating failures and making poor choices.

One predominant cause of this failure to consider delays is rushing to get a project completed in a certain time frame. The pressure to get your project done by a fixed date may be driven by many things – the whim of a senior stakeholder, funding availability, the need for resources on other planned projects, legal restrictions, seasonal weather conditions, etc.


When a “get it done by” mandate is in play, pressure, and the anxiety it brings leads decision makers to cut corners, perhaps forgetting that spending more time planning can result in exponentially less time during the rest of the project. Pressure and anxiety also lead to applying quick fixes which overlook long term consequences.

Expediency bias operates even when there is no major pressure to hit a deadline. It is the tendency to prefer quick action over taking the time to make sure there is clarity and understanding about short and longer-term results.

During planning, rushing and expediency bias leads to only looking at one scenario instead of a few. Assessing multiple scenarios opens the decision to useful analysis. But this takes time. When rushing, talk about lags or delays is impatiently squelched. The risk of making a poor decision based on limited information is high.


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Quick Fixes – Short Term thinking

Another dimension of delay thinking is the recognition that when resolving a problem, while short-term fixes might remove symptoms there is a delay before the nature of longer-term consequences are experienced.

We are often blind to the long-term effects of short-term decisions and actions. When there is a lag between our action and its effect, we are easily driven by the satisfaction of short-term pleasure and immediate gratification.

Take the decision between eating a bowl of ice cream and a salad. If you are like me, the ice cream is far more pleasing than the salad. And, at the end of the day, you’d look and feel the same regardless of your choice. So why not go for the ice cream.


But factor in delay thinking and you get to see that if you repeatedly opt for the ice cream over the salad the delayed longer-term effects start to show – weight gain, digestive issues, increased blood sugar levels, etc.

Looking at the short and long-term effects makes your decision making more effective. You know what you are gaining and giving up when you make your choice. You can opt for ice cream sometimes, but you are more likely to moderate, assuming your goal is good health. You can remove symptoms with a quick fix, but you had better consider the longer term impact and plan for it.



Awareness is the key.


Being aware that delays are normal parts of experience makes it likely that we will consider them when making decisions and planning projects. Knowledge of the specific delays in your project comes from analysis and experience, your own and your institution’s.

Be aware of rushing and expediency bias and the power of spending more time in planning to playout various scenarios, consider delays and delayed effects, and cause removal vs. symptom removal options and their effects.

Think of what happens when you drop a stone into a pond of still water. Be aware that every action you take has a ripple effect and that the ripples appear over time, radiating in all directions.


[1] Senge, Peter, The Fifth Discipline, Doubleday, NY, 1990 p. 90

Best of PMTimes: 5 Ways Your Company Culture Affects Project Management

A brand’s culture is the personality and identity behind the company.


It is the set of values, rules, and commitments that the employees live by at the office, and employers use to build an appealing brand image both internally and externally. So naturally, you can expect your company’s culture to influence and affect every process in every department, and thus effectively shape the future of your brand as a whole. When you’re managing a new project or several projects, though, your company’s culture will have avital role to play.

Not only will it help you assemble a crack team of professionals, but it will also help you delegate roles, ensure healthy and continuous communication and collaboration, set your goals and objectives just right, and ultimately deliver on the projected results ahead of time. With all of that in mind, here are the five ways your company culture can affect project management, and how to use it to take your projects to new heights of success.


Incentivize employees to increase productivity

At its core, your company’s culture serves the purpose of incentivizing your employees to love their job and the brand they work for. Through numerous employee-oriented rules and routines, the causes your company supports, and the values your brand stands for, you’re building a friendly work environment where people can live, laugh, and work with a positive attitude and a clear goal in mind – to give it their best on each and every project.

This is why it is important to find ways in which your company’s culture can directly influence and elevate the productivity of the individual, before you can start optimizing it to positively impact the team as a whole. Be sure to find out what moves your employees as well as the values they stand for, and try to weave them into the narrative in some form in order to inspire them to care for the project and its outcome.


Ensure accountability and boost collaboration

In order to manage a successful project from inception to finalization, you need to build accountability among your team members. Your employees and colleagues need to hold themselves and each other accountable for their actions, as well as the actions of the team as a whole in order to keep the project moving forward at all times, react to mistakes and setbacks effectively, and even predict possible pitfalls to avoid them successfully.

When you have accountability, you can also boost collaboration and co-dependence easily. Through a positive company culture that nurtures accountability and collaboration, your employees will lean on each other for support, you will be able to spark innovative thinking and decision-making, and of course, you will have an easier time running a tight ship with minimal risk of error.


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Bringing diversity to the team and the project

It’s no secret that one of the keys to an efficient and successful project is diversity. But beyond the project itself, your company’s culture should emphasize the need to attract, bring in, and retain diverse talent from numerous communities and demographics in order to improve the brand’s image, and bring value to the company in terms of skilled and loyal employees. This is a solution favored by Australian business leaders, so let’s take a look at their example.

In Sydney and other highly-competitive business hubs, project managers will source diverse talent from agencies such as atWork Australia in order to bring people with disabilities into their ranks and tap into a lucrative talent pool that resides within this community. Likewise, they will use AI-software and specialized HR recruitment programs to eliminate all bias from the recruiting process, in order to give all applicants a fair chance at proving their worth to the company.

Following the same mindset, be sure to bring people from all walks of life to your project in order to spark creativity and innovation, improve collaboration, and gain loyal brand members.


Define leadership roles and strengthen organization

Another way in which your company’s culture can help you manage your projects and deliver on the desired results is helping you assign leadership roles, structure communication, organize workflow, and organize your employees individually. Now, this requires you to combine your own leadership skills with the insights your company’s culture brings to the table in order to help with delegation and workflow.

Using your skills as a leader, be sure to analyze how your team members respond to the values of your brand and the governing rules that shape your culture, and then proceed to pick out the individuals best suited to run the team. Assign complementary personalities to your leaders, people you know are devoted to the cause and passionate about their work, and of course, find the right “contrasting” figure that will serve as the counterweight to the team – in order to improve the decision-making process and ensure critical thinking.


Carrying the project with shared values and passions

And finally, keep in mind that a positive company culture builds passionate mindsets. When your employees and team members are in love with their job, and when they resonate with the values of your company, they will invariably become more committed to the project, and they are likely to become passionate in the process. Through this shared passion, your team members will carry the project to fruition.


Final thoughts

Project management is the driving force behind long-term business success in the modern corporate world. Be sure to act on these insights and work on your company’s culture if you are to fine-tune the PM process, and create a diversified and passionate team that will take your brand forward as a whole.



Published: 2019/09/04

Making the Impossible Possible – Expectations, Loss, and Loss Leaders

It always seems impossible until it’s done.Nelson Mandela


Projects burdened by impossible objectives tend to fail, disappoint, and burnout performers. They are a sign that the decision-making process is broken. To avoid failure, make sure there is a solid understanding of the difference between possible and impossible goals and objectives and a well-thought-out decision-making process.


In the context of project engagements (see my recent article Engagement Management: A Key To Successful Projects), setting impossible objectives is often the result of a poor approval process, inadequate estimates, lack of effective pushback by project management to either an overzealous sales effort or an overly demanding client/sponsor.


Beware of an Over-Zealous Attitude

The tendency to set impossible objectives is strengthened by attitudes like the one expressed by Mandela and this one from Muhammad Ali:

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration.”


The ‘can-do’ attitude is powerful and motivating. But, in fact there are some things that are, in fact, impossible. For example, changing the past is impossible, as are completely controlling the future or getting a ten person-day task like setting requirements done in a day by assigning ten full time people to it.

As the Serenity Prayer recognizes, it takes wisdom to know the difference between what is possible and what is not, and the courage to act.


Is It Worth It?

There are objectives that seem impossible but may be possible. A big question for project stakeholders is, what is it worth to find out?

In project management the “wisdom” referred to in the Serenity Prayer needs to be shared among sales, project sponsors, and clients and it needs to be embedded in the engagement management process.

Stretch goals push the edge of performance but achieving them can be costly and have a high probability of failure. Go for it if cost is not a significant constraint, achieving goals is highly rewarding in non-financial terms, and expectations are realistic.


For example, the cost of fighting and winning against the apartheid system in South Africa was not a significant constraint. People were willing to give their lives and livelihoods to win. The reward, freedom, was worth the cost. And expectations, while high, were realistic – people were willing to keep at it as long as necessary and had no idea how long that would be.

But in business and technology projects we have a different dynamic. The sales price, which is made up of costs plus profits, sets up a goal for the project manager and team that, if unmet, costs the organization and the team. The organization loses money, the team is faced with failure, clients and sponsors are disappointed.

In-house projects have a similar dynamic. The sales price is the cost estimate which with expected benefits drives project approval. Cost and schedule overruns and unrealized benefits are costly to the organization and the performance team. Clients and sponsors are disappointed.


A key question is – Is it worth it to attempt to achieve the stretch goals?


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Decision Making and Consequences

Portfolio Management’s project approval process is the forum for making the decision to decide if ‘it’s worth it’. There is no problem when the answer comes out of a well thought out analysis of costs, benefits, alternatives, and risks, and expectations are well-managed.


But when the decision is made based on bad estimates and emotion, with a misguided understanding of what is and isn’t possible, there will be hell to pay.


Looking at two situations, considering costs, competition for resources, and benefits, we can see how project approval works.


1. In situation One a contractor organization is selling a project to a client. The sales team works with the client to find a price that the client likes. This comes out of a negotiation within the client’s procurement process. Ideally, the sales team considers input from estimators representing the performance team and comes up with a price that sells and is profitable.

If the sales team does not consult the performance team, the price is likely to be an impossible goal. If the performance team is consulted and says that they can do the job, but their costs would eat into or do away with profit, that’s where the decision makers come in. Their job is easy if the price and costs allow for sufficient profit.

If profit is lower than executives would like or if there is a loss, then the decision makers must decide whether to take on a loss-leader project that will, say, get the company in the door at a new client or keep competitors out of an existing client. They must assess whether this project is worth doing given limited resources and more profitable or critical projects.

If the decision makers decide to approve, they must (but often do not) set expectations with the performance team to let them know they are shooting for a rational target and why the project price is so low.

This scenario is linked to incentives – sales commissions pinned to gross sales price or to profit and bonuses for the performance team. And, of course, schedule – delivery targets, their priority, and time to completion – is a major factor.


2. Scenario Two is where the work will be done by in-house resources. In this situation the dynamic is different. The project price (the cost to the organization) may be set based on a well thought out or faulty cost estimate or based on available budget and a strong desire to do the project.

Instead of profit, decision criteria include benefits. While benefits are realized over years and often far exceed costs, available budget and contention for resources are constraints. A decision is made.

If the performers know they are shooting for a rational target all’s well. When they are driven to meet impossible objectives there are consequences like failure, poor morale, relationship issues, turnover, and burnout.


Going Forward

As always, assess your current situation and track record.

  • Are project overruns frequent?
  • Are estimates chronically inaccurate?
  • Are staff members driven to do the impossible?
  • Do you have a clearly defined well-functioning decision-making process that includes managing the impact on staff of stretch objectives?
  • Who is accountable for project overruns, particularly when realistic project level estimates are ignored, and cost targets are set based on political or sales oriented criteria?

Based on that assessment what do you need to change and how will you change it?


And, of course, do not believe it when someone says, “it’s impossible.” Check the facts, get other opinions, use your intuition, then decide. Push the edge to do the impossible when it is worth it. Make sure expectations are well-managed.



Five Ways Construction Companies Can Avoid “Technical Debt”

This article was cowritten by Lucas Marshall and Robert LaCosse of Milwaukee Tool.


Construction companies know the importance of integrating their systems (e.g., 85.1% of owners viewed mobile integrations as a “very important” or “important” priority in the 2021 ConTech Report). Yet, full-system integration remains an industry challenge – a global KPMG study revealed that a measly 16% of executives surveyed reported their organizations have fully integrated systems and tools.


In early 2023, 40% of SMBs in the construction industry stated they’d be looking to upgrade their software in the next 12 months.

When deploying any software system, you run the risk of accruing technical debta term that commonly fits into the vernacular of software developers and represents the #1 biggest threats according to 69% of business leaders.


An academic study revealed that 75% of technical debt instances originate from clunky legacy software systems. Many construction companies on legacy software systems may find themselves in a catch-22: Addressing the technical debt of their legacy system or facing downtime to deploy and learn a more cloud-friendly, adaptable solution.

In this article, we define what tech debt might look like at a construction company and offer five ways to avoid it or put solutions toward it.


What Is Technical Debt?

In short, technical debt refers to the dependencies one introduces when deploying new software and hardware solutions.

A dependency may be one system not communicating with another, or perhaps an accumulation of software bugs that make a software interface sluggish and hard to use.

Technical debt, like financial debt that can lead a person to bankruptcy if left to accumulate, poses a significant business risk; growing technical debt, that is, refers to the cascading effect that happens when these dependencies, ignored, exponentially propagate and become insurmountable, involving massive operational costs to fully resolve.


Examples of a Construction Company’s Tech Debt

  • Mobile apps not integrating with construction ERPs
  • Single-application heritage systems running on outdated hardware
  • Time needed to learn new software
  • Discovery time needed to perform security risk assessments of new system


Five Ways to Avoid Tech Debt

Now that we’ve established what technical debt may mean to a construction company, here are five ways to avoid tech debt from accumulating:


1. Embrace a Culture of Collaboration over Isolation: Rituals, Governance, and Retrospectives

A retrospective is a classic practice in Agile software development where teams reflect on recently completed work and, through these rituals, the team gets more efficient and collaboration yields greater productivity over time.


Planning Poker

Planning poker is a conversational tool that exists online and physically – it’s a great tool for facilitating critical discussion. It centers on the reality that if you want to avoid technical debt – which can emerge from complexities not commonly understood by all stakeholders – you need to implement a process whereby all stakeholders, or more importantly all disciplines, have the ability to voice what they believe or know to be benefits and threats of any implementation.

“Collaboration” Apps and Systems

A joint-Autodesk/FMI study revealed that construction has some work to do in terms of collaboration:

  • 60% of general contractors see problems with coordination and communication between project team members and issues with the quality of contract documents as the key contributors to decreased labor productivity.
  • 68% of trades point to poor schedule management as the key contributors to decreased labor productivity.
  • 9% of construction industry professionals say that the top reason for miscommunication is unresponsiveness to questions/requests.


Construction companies can address these collaboration pitfalls by: Adopting cloud-based productivity apps and encouraging company-wide usage. Conveniently accessible communication apps like Slack can empower back-office workers as well as those in the field to communicate with each other more seamlessly, while powerful project management apps like Procore can help construction managers oversee full-lifecycle projects onsite. We’ve built our tool management app with workflows in mind – allowing, for example, tool managers to text or email team members from their smartphone contacts list without leaving the app. It’s of course important to stress, though, a collaboration platform, no matter how powerful, can’t empower its users unless they actually commit to using it together! Our advice: Pick an app and integrate it with other teams’ apps and systems (see in our next section about integrations) to avoid information silos.


2. Hire a Dedicated Software Engineer, Technologist, or CTO

A construction technologist is an important, emerging role within an organization that oversees a company’s construction technology program—responsible for researching and piloting advanced technology (see in next section).


True, labor shortages in the construction industry are staggering, though the US construction market is expected to continue to grow. Mass layoffs in the tech industry present a unique opportunity to absorb the tech industry’s displaced software engineering talent to help address the industry’s productivity challenges:


  • Addressing Technical Debt – In lieu of three months downtime to fully port over one system for another, software engineering expertise can guide a company in taking a portion of a larger software ecosystem offline at a time and replacing it with a part, but there are complexities and hairiness to that, which will require nuanced expertise.
  • Integrations – Building connectors between project management and an ERP, connecting specialty design to prefab, BIM and asset management, etc., to limit manual reentry of project information, remove data silos, and better connect the flow of project data between your teams’ various software systems and apps.
  • Open APIs – Open APIs allow software providers to empower your company’s technical team; in the event an integration doesn’t exist, technologists have the tools to build a custom solution in the short-term.


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3. Embrace Technology

It may sound counterintuitive—to attack technical obstacles by introducing more technology, especially when 42% didn’t have a budget for IT (according to the same ConTech report). But successful pilot programs and onboarding can empower contractors and business owners to deploy technology in a meaningful, outcomes-driven way:


  • BIM – Building information modeling, the digital tools of trade that architects, engineers, and contractors use to create unified, collaborative, multi-dimensional representations of built environments and infrastructure can mitigate risk and shorten project timelines by 50%, according to a scientific case study.
  • Industrialized Construction is not so much a technology as a complete redefinition of construction processes in favor of “productization” over one-off projects that improves quality, consistency, and value for customers. It takes advantage of multiple approaches, such as:
    • Offsite construction – both prefabrication and modular prefabrication – which moves preassembly of certain components to an offsite, manufacturing-style facility, and which has proven to increase project timeliness by 50% while reducing waste by 20%.
    • 3D Printing – 3D printing (aka: additive manufacturing) offer rapid design freedom and speed of delivery, delivering a 10-house community in China in a single day, for example. Respondents surveyed about their use of 3D printers reported the following benefits they viewed as most important: Ability to create complex geometrical objects, 69%; Value of quick iteration of products, 52%; Mass customization abilities, 41%.
  • Drones – Drones can be used ahead of breaking ground on projects in land surveying just as they can be used to provide real-time project reality capture.
  • Robots – Robots can be used to automate procedural tasks to free skilled trades to tend to tasks that require a higher degree of human intelligence; they can also keep workers out of harm’s way by automating dangerous tasks.
  • Smart Tools – Smart power tools can deliver installations faster and safer, using advanced technology like machine learning to protect operators against dangerous kickback events. Advanced software/hardware interaction can be used to dial in precision settings for application-specific repeatability, utilization data from events performed on tools in the field can be packaged up in a fully customizable reporting suite to provide proof-of-work documentation to customers, building inspectors, and stakeholders.
  • Generative AI – It may be a faux pas in certain circles, but exploring realistic ways in which generative AI may fit into construction workflows (e.g., assisting project managers, inventory managers, construction safety trainers, etc.) is critical as the industry looks to execute on growing backlogs.


4. Lean Construction

Just as agile software seeks to improve quality over time, lean construction is an approach to the business of building things that aims to minimize waste and maximize value for all stakeholders by reducing waste commonly encountered on construction sites such as:


  • Excessive material handling
  • Rework
  • Design errors
  • Conflicts between trades
  • Conflicts between other contractors
  • Ineffective supply chains


5. Digital Twins and IoT

Digital twin technology seeks to mirror real systems and drive smarter, predictive analytics with real-time sensor data through machine learning and artificial intelligence – and it’s helped reduce rework in manufacturing by 15-20%.

Digital twins aggerate data through related IoT sensors that can be used in construction to keep track of tools and equipment in real-time across various jobsites as well as drive safer, smarter installations.

McKinsey some six years ago predicted the rise of IoT devices to empower companies to monitor and repair equipment in real-time through automated alerts for preventive maintenance, inventory management and ordering, quality assessment (i.e., “smart structures”), energy efficiency, and safety.

Today, many of those predictions have come true; with the launch of Apple’s Vision Pro recently, renewed discussion in the construction wearable space, for example, is worth having to enhance safety training.


Bottom Line

The construction industry, strapped for talent (both skilled trades and engineering), is rife with opportunities for technical debt – however, there’s a myriad of tools at a business owner or technologist’s disposal to prevent technical debt from getting out of hand.


We recommend:

  1. Collaboration and ownership through project retrospectives
  2. Hiring a Dedicated Software Engineer, Technologist, or CTO – perhaps displaced talent from the technology sector
  3. Embracing advanced technology
  4. Embracing lean construction principles
  5. Supercharging your data analytics via digital twins and IoT


Robert LaCosse is a User Experience strategist with over 10 years of experience improving user experiences for major companies like Intel and Razorfish. At Milwaukee Tool, he is a leader in the UX Research discipline, responsible for ritualizing user research practices for One-Key software products. He also serves as a UX mentor and adjunct professor of computer science at Clark College in Washington state.

Project Management for Midsize Companies

In many ways, Project Management is more art than science. Those of us who have spent years in the field have most likely studied the science of it through classes and certifications.

There are certainly best practices that apply most of the time and a Project Manager would do well to have that foundation. But dare I say, the majority of textbook concepts don’t apply much of the time? Let me share a story of a project I tried to manage “by the book” that taught me a big lesson about adapting the “book” to the needs of the company and the team.

During one of my early roles as a Project Manager I worked hard to be organized and apply all the concepts I learned while studying for my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. I remember one project in particular where I meticulously developed a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and calculated the critical path. I had a Microsoft Project sheet a mile long, as this was a major project that would take more than a year to complete. All my details were in order. Project Schedule – check.

Confident in my plan, I brought the project team together. I had worked with key stakeholders to identify all the departments involved in the project and worked with those department leads to know which people should represent their department. I shared my project documents with the team and talked through roles and responsibilities. Stakeholder Management – check.

I knew part of my job was to clear roadblocks for the team, which included the roadblocks of me being a bottleneck. I thought the best way to keep everyone informed was to democratize project documents and have teams make their updates directly rather than funnel all updates through me. I created automations to remind team representatives to make weekly updates.

I had automations to notify people when one of their predecessor items was updated so they would know right away. I had automations to notify both me and team representatives when an update was overdue. Everyone had access to view, so no one ever had to wait on me to share a document or give a status update. We had weekly status meetings to allow for discussion and broader visibility, as well as ad hoc meetings for specific topics as they arose. Transparency and Collaboration – check.


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If you haven’t already guessed, let me tell you how this worked out. Not a single person ever went into the project tracker to make an update. Not a single person ever went into the project tracker to see status. My first pivot was to start collecting updates weekly and input them into the tracker myself. This allowed me to stay closer to the project details and gave me an opportunity to do a weekly assessment of project health with more context.

Those weekly conversations turned out to be so much more valuable than independent updates in the tracker. Every week, I would take this updated tracker and the deeper context I had to give a status update. I would share my screen and show the tracker so everyone could see visually where we were compared to the overall plan.

If you haven’t already guessed, let me tell you why this failed fast. If every team was meeting with me weekly to give me an update, why did they need to sit through a weekly status meeting of me telling them where their items were in the project? They didn’t. I lost the team’s engagement fast. My next pivot was a change that has stuck with me through the years. I did the legwork to meet with teams, understand their status, challenges, dependencies, needs, and projections. I consolidated all the information and culled it to down to what was critical.

Every Monday I sent an email with the week’s game plan, including all work expected to be done with deadlines and names of people responsible for doing the work. Every Friday I sent an email as a Reply All giving an update on what had been completed as expected, what had changed, what was delayed and why. If something meaningful changed and needed discussion or a decision, I would schedule a meeting to discuss it. We now had emails for things that could be emails, and meetings for things that needed to be discussed live.

This raised my credibility with the team when I called a meeting, because they trusted that there was something meeting-worthy to discuss rather than just a status update that could and should be an email instead. My Monday “game plan” emails served as an easy reference for project team members to know exactly what they needed to work on, which increased the rate of project work completion because there was more clarity and it was easily accessible.

Nearly 10 years later, I still rely on this approach. My Monday and Friday templates have evolved as my projects have changed, but this approach has proven successful time and again.

This semi-informal approach to Project Management would likely not succeed at a company with tens of thousands of employees. With larger teams and greater numbers of stakeholders, proper project management tools and formal project communication methods are likely necessary. On the other end of the spectrum, this semi-formal Project Management with meticulous planning and centralized tracking is probably more than is needed at a small company.

When teams are small and work closely together, it’s much easier for everyone to know what everyone is working on without a person dedicated to keeping it all organized. My time at midsize companies has helped me find this Goldilocks approach somewhere in the middle.