Action Steps That Work
This month we've discussed how to design the structures needed to make project management successful in small business. We've looked at defining the mindset, having a project plan, knowing where to start, and dealing with change. We want to end this month's spotlight with a focus on action. It's one thing to have a plan, but no plan is successful without action.
A common mistake for many project managers is to make action steps too big and thus they become almost like mini-projects to manage. In project management, your goal is to break the action steps into the smallest actionable pieces that you can. It's helpful if each action step requires only one person to be accountable and has one focus. This isn't always possible. For example, your project may require a meeting with several people in attendance. It then needs to be assigned to anyone that needs to be in attendance, but too often the action step would be listed as:
The problem with this is there are too many questions. Who schedules the meeting? What needs to come out of the meeting? How should that happen? It's easy to assume that the person assigned to this might know they need to schedule it or that they need to either take notes or present final language to the project manager, but what we know is that it doesn't work that well in real life. As a project manager, there will be a direct correlation between your success and your ability to create clear and concise action steps. Instead of the action step example above you might consider breaking it into:
Breaking your action steps out takes longer in the beginning, but brings a level of clarity that is missing in many projects. This allows you to:
In the end, project management is all about having the right structures and training on those structures in your business. If your projects are not moving forward then it's time to assess your project management structures.