Recently, I wrote a post about the concept of a pre-mortem, which was inspired by an amazing podcast I’d heard (listen to it here). I felt that this concept could be interpreted exceptionally well within a framework of project management. The idea that thinking of as many variables and hindrances to the success of individual tasks, which in turn would delay the milestones necessary to the completion of the project as a whole, quite literally correlates to medical care. Addressing the goals linked to a person's or project's wellness really resonated with me.
In my new series of five posts, this being the first, I will discuss how concepts of IT code correlate to the way we live life. I will begin with how I see project management as a potentially correlative element to life in general and how to successfully live this life. This is not to say that I am entirely successful, as definitions of success are subjective. But I do feel that each day I get closer to setting and achieving better goals.
First, we need to determine what our goals are, and whether financial, physical, fitness, emotional, romantic, professional, social, or whatever else matters to you are success goals. For me, lately, a big one has become getting better at guitar. But ultimately, the goals themselves are not as important as achieving them.
So, how do I apply the tenets of project management to my own goals? First and foremost, the most critical step is keeping the goals in mind.
- Define your goals and set timelines
- Define the steps you need to take to achieve your goals
- Determine the assets necessary to achieve these goals, including vendors, partners, friends, equipment, etc.
- Define potential barriers to achieving those goals, such as travel for work, illness, family emergencies, etc.
- Define those barriers (as best you can)
- Establish a list of potential roadblocks, and establish correlating contingencies that could mitigate those roadblocks
- Work it
What does the last point mean? It means engaging with individuals who are integral to setting and keeping commitments. These people will help keep an eye on the commitments you’ve made to yourself, the steps you’ve outlined for yourself, and doing the work necessary to make each discrete task, timeline, and milestone achievable.
If necessary, create a project diagram of each of your goals, including the above steps, and define these milestones with dates marked as differentiators. Align ancillary tasks with their subtasks, and defined those as in-line sub-projects. Personally, I do this step for every IT project with which I am involved. Visualizing a project using a diagram helps me keep each timeline in check. I also take each of these tasks and build an overall timeline of each sub-project, and put it together as a master diagram. By visualizing these, I can ensure that future projects aren't forgotten, while also giving me a clear view of when I need to contact outside resources for their buy-in. Defining my goals prior to going about achieving them allows me to be specific. Also, when I can see that I am accomplishing minor successes along the way (staying on top of the timeline I've set, for example), helps me stay motivated.
Below is a sample of a large-scale precedence diagram I created for a global DR project I completed years ago. As you start from the left side and continue to the right you’ll see each step along the way, with sub-steps, milestones, go/no-go determinations, and final project success on the far right. Of course, this diagram has been minimized to fit to the page. In this case, visibility into each step is not as important as is the definition and precedence of each step. What does that step rely on for the achievement of this step? These have all been defined on this diagram.
The satisfaction I garner from a personal or professional task well accomplished cannot be minimized.