Setting Reminders Everywhere
Jeff Meyer, PMI Houston Contributor
Have you ever missed a deadline or event despite your best planning and preparation? We all have, it’s part of being human, we all make mistakes, but mistakes can be limited. Misses can be detrimental for a project manager with a critical schedule. Most people use common proactive steps, like marking calendars, using sticky notes, and setting electronic reminders, but they can still experience the occasional miss. Some less conventional reminders might assist you in meeting goals and preventing critical errors. Before you start tying a string around your finger, look at the examples below to get some ideas about what works best for you.
Arranging to have people remind you about upcoming milestones is a great way to stay sharp and is easy to incorporate into your current processes. Set up meetings to verify progress, or have people get back to you with information on details that may or may not be critical to the project; details that can help remind you to follow up on the activities associated with that piece of the project. If you cannot find a particular reason for a person to follow up with you, just ask them to get back with you and remind you. You might be surprised at how many people are willing to help you if you just ask.
For short reminders, while you are away from your desk, you can send yourself an email. This can help you gather your ideas quickly without losing focus on your current task, and allows you to return to it at a more convenient time. It also provides you with a running history of your work for future reference.
Checklists and notes are pretty conventional, but uncommon placement can be key. If you just keep notes in the “notes drawer” you will only look at them when you feel the need and they won’t serve as timely reminders. This leads to complacency eventual forgetfulness. Alternatively, if you place your notes somewhere where they can serve as a barrier requiring moving before you can proceed, this will help keep you on track. Place notes on the top of your briefcase, lunch bag, door handle, mirrors, monitors, anywhere that you cannot move on to the next step of your life before removing the note. You can also do this electronically by keeping windows or emails open until you have dealt with the issue or set up the next reminder.
Another good way to set a reminder is by association or mnemonics. Make up a rhyme or a song to help remember someone’s name, you can also use this technique to keep your projects on track. Although these pictures, words, acronyms, etc., may not really be related to the project directly, they can help you remember important milestones and triggers. For example, try naming each project phase after a different band you commonly hear on the radio and your subconscious will make a connection to help you remember later.
In summary, even a small item can seem trivial until it’s forgotten. By then, it has become a real issue and difficult to keep on top of. Different memory devices work for different people, situations, and environments. You need to figure out what works best for you. Explore your options continually and utilize as many reminders as you can. You should never stop trying to improve your processes. No project manager wants to be the one who dropped the ball and forgot to order the pizza for the pizza party.
Minutes With Marisela
WHY ARE OUTDATED CHANGE MANAGEMENT MODELS STILL USED BY MANY CONSULTING COMPANIES?
Dr. Marisela Jiménez
When was the last time you took the time to review your organization’s systems? No, I’m not referring to technology systems but human capital systems. I’m talking about people in your organization and their thinking systems that influence the organization’s overall performance. In a recent review of consulting companies, I discovered that many consultants are still using outdated change management models with their clients. Why are outdated change management models still used by many consulting companies? Every industry is changing, and the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, and global competition are defying the most robust companies. Many leaders in most organizations seem unable to create and execute visionary and sustainable business strategies, and as a result, the organization’s economic value and human capital talent capabilities dimish.
To help leaders proactively engender their organization, the following 21st Century Organizational Change Model is recommended:
ABC Change Management Model
- Leaders must review their Thinking Systems that derail organizational capabilities and be savvy in leveraging empirical solutions comprised of Human Capital with technical and soft skills aligned with the business's future needs.
- Leaders must fully know the organization’s future business needs and evaluate current systems to strategically align emerging market demands.
- Leaders must consider demographics of the emerging workforce, review organizational benchmarks, and establish relevant learning systems aligned with present and future organizational strategic goals.
The Great Project Manager - What You Need to Know!
Paula Arthur, PMI Houston Contributor
Every year around this time, people take a moment to reflect on past experiences, what went well, mistakes and our future goals. As a foundation, project managers must learn to become stronger communicators, planners and problem solvers. If we improve these skills, past experiences will only propel us into a successful future in any industry. First, it is important to know what you know, and become the subject matter expert if you will. Learn your craft, sharpen your abilities to expand our foundation of better tools and resources, whether it is technology, engineering, client relations, science or financial analysis.
Secondly, we all know communication is a critical factor in our field. If managers cannot work in diverse settings, the projects will simply not get done. Communication affects teams in any environment and it is best to know your audience. Ensure every person you are interacting with understands your message. Thoughtful, frequent and creative communication will ensure that everyone is on the same page and help to avoid any misunderstandings in future. Although not easy, managers must take time to get to know the team players teams well including internal dynamics, weaknesses and strengths. By developing a communication plan, managers will have stronger connections with different personalities to adapt the best strategy from project to project.
The client’s perspective is different. Communication is about project status, challenges or providing other details is absolutely essential. Taking time in this arena will aid in reinforcing key messages and build rapport in the future. Recent studies indicate that status meetings and progress reports with our teams are invaluable to keep teams on track with next steps, action items, project risks, budgets and process.
Surprisingly, planning is an area that many managers do not pay much attention to. What is a project manager without a plan? It would be like a wandering traveler without a map. How will you arrive at the destination? Our ability to organize tasks in the right direction, hit the right outcome at the right point in time is a major part of our role. Planning is all about finding ways to do all that you need to do as efficiently as possible. It is absolutely critical as project managers, we give scheduling the focus it deserves to ensure the tasks are completed timely.
Project managers are natural problem solvers. What happens when things don’t go as planned? How the project manager handles an unexpected outcome is an essential skill. The project manager must be proactive to the extent that you’re always ten steps ahead and always know ‘what’s next’. That means not only for success but for the disasters too. A skilled project manager must able to multitask and always have a contingency plan up their sleeve.
PMI defines project management as a systematic process to consistently meet objectives and create timelines for varied competencies involving areas of communication, planning and problem solving. Yes, we must have knowledgeable and the right tools, but critically, we must know how to apply the right techniques to our projects. We are looking forward to new opportunities in 2020 and beyond. Please join the movement to become the best.