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Getting Projects into Flow

By Neville Pritchard 

So many projects fail to meet initial budgets and/or timelines. Why? When working with the underlying principles of the Talent Dynamics profile relating to I Ching it is so clear that any great project or organization strategy needs to follow the natural flow of the seasons, natural energies and relate to the positive cycle of default question.

So, what are these links and how do they apply in a project context?

‘When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.’ – Howard Schultz

This approach relies on digging deeply at each stage. There is potential impatience in following taking time to fully consider each step before reaching ‘how’ – however, the stress caused when projects have to be pulled out of disaster or at least re-worked to incorporate more realistic timing and detail can be avoided by spending the time at this early stage.

Positive Flow

Think from NHS technology to those projects within your own organizations.  In researching a number of high profile and also smaller organization projects we have realized that whenever implementation has more closely followed the ‘positive flow’ we see high percentages of success.

The danger and where we have seen the lowest levels of success has been when either the Why has not been fully defined and when the planning has jumped from What to How. These are common issues yet a large percentage of these errors are made at the most senior levels. Often in the belief that key to speed is the ability to move thinking from what to how and an assumption that the why is obvious. Neither of these considerations are logical. When fully explored and the evidence of major project failings is so overwhelming it is time to stop the assumptions.

Stress, Timelines and Budgets

Think about the people you sit near on trains having fits of stress from phone calls about their timelines and budgets. The person I sat near last week was in deep do dah!

On listening (it was hard not to!) it was clear that so many of the ‘who’ questions had not been considered that he was now being blitzed by a range of people that he had never heard of now sending him irate e-mails. This he was passing onto a colleague to investigate and all of the action and task considerations would now need revisiting. Unfortunately this is a familiar tale.

Positive Depth

Essentially, once the ‘Why’ has been agreed at senior level and the ‘what’ defined then it is the time to pass the ‘thinking’ on the project over to a core set of project specialists and facilitators with the skills to ensure the positive flow and depth is completed.  The added value from executives can then be brought to consider a fully developed approach rather than ‘solutioneer’ a less developed frame. Time of all is better utilized.

This is not easy to achieve though; the need for trust is key. When in place though the enhanced impact on internal trust, of workflow and on people costs and people value contribution are likely to be significant and the real value of each level of contribution is focused to greater impact.

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