How many times have you been a part of a team project that simply cannot stay on course? How many times does a project shift from one focus to another? How many times have you had to adjust a project as you gained more information about the end result? While some of these frustrating aspects of teamwork are unavoidable, others can be accounted for at the outset of the project. Here are three suggestions that could help you have a productive beginning to a team project.
#3. Begin at the very end of the project
“Do some preliminary research and sketch out your tentative conclusions.” This is the advice of Robert Pozen, author of the book Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours. And while this may sound like very simple advice for the outset of a large project, Pozen emphasized the use of “tentative conclusions.” Accept from the outset that there will be adjustments, and create a solution or supposed end point that allows flexibility. Use your vision of the end as a general guide for the project. This may help reduce the stress of a large project as well, since they so often find a way of morphing into something different than was originally intended.
#2. Include all the key players from the outset of the project
In order to help you discuss the end solution successfully, make sure that you have a representative from all parties whom the project will affect. If the project has implications for the entire company, make sure to rouse input from people throughout the company instead of just looking for the solution within the vacuum of your own team. This way you can learn how the project could be beneficial and receive input from all sides of the company, helping you avoid a situation that might cause you to refocus the project later. These representatives from other departments don’t have to be ever-present members of the project’s team. Think of them more as consultants who give their advice and then leave the team to their work.
#1. Decide what is “good enough” for the project and the team
Pozen also reminds us that “perfectionism is an enemy of productivity.” We do not live in a world with the time and resources at our disposal to give each project every moment of attention or every triple-checked detail that it deserves. As you establish your desired conclusions, also establish a level of completion that you’re striving for. This does not mean that you leave things undone or do less than your best quality of work on the project, but allow yourself to be content with B+ work on projects to make more time and effort available for other projects elsewhere.
Large projects, especially those undertaken with a team, can be daunting. Plan for the shifts and changes that can take place over the course of your projects by accounting for them as you develop your goals. We’re not able to see the future or precisely predict the end point of a project, but we can make educated guesses from our previous experience that will help to alleviate stress and frustration throughout the process.
Do you think these tips will lead to a productive beginning to your next team project? Spark a conversation below!