WWBFD—What Would Benjamin Franklin Do? Effective Project Management
I don’t know what Ben would have made of Asana or Basecamp, but we’re in the process of implementing new project management software (a whole project in itself!) so I’ve had good old Ben on my mind a lot lately. So I thought it would be a good time to review the basics. Below is my (and Ben’s) best advice for effective project management:
“Diligence is the mother of good luck.” –
First and most important, have all the relevant details in place before work begins. Everyone’s eager to get started, and the phrase “We’ll iron out the details” has been uttered. Now is the time to hold your ground, because once things get moving, changes and additions will only cause longer and more expensive delays.
“We must all hang together or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” –
Put the right team with the right skills on the project. Know which projects can be a chance for junior members to gain experience, and which need the A-team right off the bat.
“Well done is better than well said.” –
In other words, don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Set and manage realistic expectations for both your internal team and your client, in terms of both timeline and results.
“Too many cooks spoil the broth.” –
Okay, this one isn’t directly from Franklin, but I’m sure he said it. Clearly identify roles and responsibilities of the various team members.
“Think of three things: whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you must account” –
Communicate regularly with team and the client throughout the project, but don’t micromanage. Remember, your job is what gets done and when, not how it gets done. Have agreed-upon check-in times but otherwise do what you can to stay out of the way.
“Tart words make no friends: a spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.” –
Project managers have a reputation, earned or not, for being harsh taskmasters. So be sure to reward and motivate your team throughout the process. Yes, success should be its own reward, but good habits need reinforcement.