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Making Progress

Making Progress – what are the secrets?

Recently we have discussed a bias towards action and  the rule of THREE – both of which will aid you significantly in your quest for progress. Let’s look at the broader aspects that can also help deliver more significant progress.

Environment is everything, and you can create your own environment. On the positive side (fuelling progress) are the energy gained by virtue of working on meaningful work/projects, having a degree of autonomy that allows us to make progress without an overbearing sense of judgement, catalysts and nourishers. Let’s expand on this these a little.

Meaningful work – there are a couple of schools of thought here. One spends a large amount of time discussing how to find your passion and then find work that fuels your passion in a virtuous way. The other look more at finding meaning and purpose in your work and honing that to make your work meaningful. While both have validity, I very much align with the latter – I was brought up with the belief that if you are the best at what you do, you will have a rich life no matter what you choose to do. My craft is very much around portfolio management and the related fields of program and project management and I find myself learning here all the time and also bringing that knowledge to a myriad of work situations where I can do great work with other people. For 2014, I am focused on codifying this knowledge and the first step of this is writing out my own personal portfolio and tracking my progress – this work is both meaningful to me and to others also I hope – I believe that knowledge in action is how we truly learn.

Autonomy – what role does that play. Well, the best role that a manager can play is to allow one to work towards clear goals with a large degree of freedom in how we operate, but who keeps an eye on progress with the intent of identifying and roadblocks or impediments and removing these – a type of accountability partner, mentor and problem solver. You as the crafts person should be setting the standard, but your manager will ensure that this does not drop.

Catalyst – these are the little interventions, almost unnoticed at the time, that turn out to be game or gear shifters in terms of progress – they often come from outside, are rarely asked for, but once executed deliver great benefit – the amount of assistance you get in this area is a function of how well you have built your support network and how clear you are on your goals.

Nourishment – we know what this means from a food perspective and from a progress perspective, it is the constructive feedback that we get from out team and leaders that shows they are with us and have the same outcomes in mind – wanting to help us be a success.

Progress is very much a function of clear goals that are meaningful to us (remember, most work can be made meaningful), plus autonomy with incremental improvement doing from catalyst and nourishment! The positive progress factor.

On the flip side of progress, is the lack of progress and it is often a function of lack of clarity with respect to the outcomes desired, setbacks (a reality of all projects and we need a way of coping with these to limit their impact), inhibitors and toxins.

Some emotive language here, but where you find lack of clarity, you need to ask why are we doing this?, who is responsible for what?, when is it required?, what is it expected to cost?, who is the real customers?, how do we ensure the customer gets what they want? And on and on – keep asking questions if it is not obvious – suggest answer to test their validity – whatever you do, don’t make assumption as this will come back to kick you in the butt.

Setbacks – a natural part of all human endeavour and in particular a part of all projects. The key here is to retain perspective and check back in with yourself (and your team/manager if required) and work through them – they will pass, you will learn and they will bring joy when you conquer them.

Inhibitors – a little more pernicious than setbacks, these are forces that can act as a constant drag on your progress – they need a different approach. Since this force has to potential to introduce constant drag on progress you need to eliminate it – there are a number of ways to approach this, but look at how you can convert them from an inhibitor into a contributor – people want to feel a sense of achievement and if you can release this force, then you are on to a winner. However, it is not always possible to turn these people and if they remain in your environment, at least try to neutralise them – in this case you need to understand firstly why they are taking the position they take and then explore whether they understand the effect they are having – this often turns people. Try it and let me know how you get on.

Toxins – pollutants! You can sense these from afar and they need to be removed from your environment as soon as possible and with the least amount of energy expended – eliminate! I will say no more.

Progress Made = Positive Progress – Negative Progress

Make sure you are focusing on the right things and that you environment is built to deliver.

Recovering Troubled Projects

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