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Had a friend mention that she had a goal of cleaning out an unruly closet, but she was procrastinating. Ah, I see. She’s daunted by the size of the task. No problem, simple principles from project management can help her with that. Rather than trying to find a full day to get it done and never mustering up the time or energy for it, I recommend breaking the task into bite-sized pieces that can be done over a series of days.

Here is a simple illustration. Read the rest of this entry »

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Early in my career, I was busy managing a team of engineers when the organization in which I worked was to be merged with another organization. The two organizations had nearly identical organizational structures, so a group similar to mine already existed in the other organization. This posed a dilemma. What should be done about these two groups?

The answer to this question emerged through an observation made by the man who’d become my new boss. He recognized an ability in me that I hadn’t recognized myself, and that was to manage projects. With that, the two groups were merged, and the other manager took over this, now larger group. I, in turn, started running projects and developed a fascination with the process of project management.

You see, to me, project management is a means of figuring out how to eat an elephant.

Question: How do you eat an elephant?

Answer: One bite at a time!

Project management helps you figure out what those bite-sized pieces are. [This is for illustration purposes only. I do not endorse the eating of elephants nor any other animal.] Project management helps you take what seems to be a ginormous task and breaks it down into manageable pieces so that you can achieve it.

Many folks think that project management is rigid and bureaucratic. For most projects, it doesn’t need to be that way. A key element to project management is that the project manager has to figure out the right amount of project management structure needed to run each project effectively and efficiently.

To that end, I want to discuss a process I find critical in my project management practice: managing risks. The process I’ll discuss over the next few posts is a minimalist strategy. It is about:

  1. Planning how to do risk management
  2. Identifying risks
  3. Prioritizing the identified risks
  4. Defining the actions to take on top risks
  5. Taking action on the top risks while watching for new ones

I have used this approach effectively for many projects. If you do no risk management at all, it is a good place to start. It is how I got started.