Take on Successful Projects

Written by on December 1, 2012 in Project Management with 0 Comments

successful projectRecently I presented a webinar called “How To Successfully Take On Any Project – Big or Small”.  If you would like to take a look, here’s the link:  http://engage.vevent.com/rt/icmarketing~9192012

Several questions were posted during the webinar that I want to answer more fully in the next few posts.  Let’s get started.

In the presentation, I did not address “Brainstorming” as a topic.  Dave asked:  Where does brainstorming come into play?  Is it best to BEGIN the project by brainstorming with the other participants, or should this take place in smaller groups AFTER the project is underway?

The Project Manager is 100% responsible for the processes used to manage the project.   Typically, the PM is handed the project and told to run with it.  Maybe you received a well-developed purpose, scope and goals from the person requesting the project.  Often, its just a quick verbal notification.  Depending upon the size of the project, brainstorming can occur at the beginning or during the project.

It’s always good to get the team together early to begin planning the project.  As PM, you are responsible for writing and developing the Statement of Work.  You could get the team together to help you develop the questions to ask to make sure you have all of the information you need to develop the SOW.

In most projects, the scope and deliverables are determined by Management.  The team determines how the project deliverables will be completed.  Getting input from the team early in the process will help to gain their acceptance of the limitations and to brainstorm ways to successfully complete the project.

Traditional brainstorming techniques where you get a bunch of people in a room and offer ideas is not always the best choice for getting good information from the team.  Sometimes the best ideas are not shared because people are afraid to speak up.  Here are some ideas for effective brainstorming.

1.  Be sure to let people know the topic of the brainstorming session in advance.  This allows them to think about some potential answers before getting to the session.

2.  Use an anonymous method of obtaining ideas.  For example, give each person a stack of PostIt Notes before you begin.  Then, have everyone write their ideas on a note and paste them on the board.

3.  Use the Affinity Diagram technique to allow everyone in the room the chance to sort the responses in a way that makes sense to them.  Remember, no talking during this process.

4.  Gather the ideas and split up the information into small groups and let the groups come up with the best ideas to share with the entire group.

5.  Follow up with additional ideas from the group.  This is where the synergy comes into play.  Let the ideas flow from the ones presented by the smaller groups.  In this way, you start with really good ideas and move beyond them to even better ideas.

Brainstorming done correctly takes a lot more time than you might think.  Getting the team involved is a really great idea.  It develops camaraderie and trust among the team members.  It also helps you, the PM, to identify the personalities and quirks of your team.

The topic for the next post will be project costs and budgets.

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