When you hear the phrase, “Project Management” how excited are you? If you’re like most of the owners, CEOs and service professionals I work with the answer is, “Not much!” On a 1-10 (high) scale, most would select between 0 and 5 (with zero not even being one of the options offered :-).
Which is unfortunate. Why? Because as Tom Peters says so well
You and I are known because of our projects. “Oh Joe, he’s the one who did [XYZ project].” Moreover, most of the work that grows a company (or organization) is done by projects. Every marketing campaign is a project. Each new product launch is a project. Hiring top talent is a project. Expanding into a new geographic territory is a project. In other words, as a business or organizational leader, you can’t afford to not be great at project management—if you want to build a bigger, better, faster and more profitable business.
The problem, of course, is that most of the people who are really good at project management (like the people who’ve gone through and passed the Project Management Institute exams) are rarely the people who are leading businesses.
Note: I have nothing against PMI practitioners and their processes. The problem I have is that I haven’t met any leaders of small businesses or organizations who are willing to take the time to do all the steps necessary for full out project management. They’re just too busy.
So, what’s the solution? My recommendation … Mind Mapping.
Now, if you haven’t done mind mapping before, don’t worry it’s pretty easy. Mind mapping is nothing more than a visual representation of tasks (in the case of project management) arranged around a central idea. So, let’s take something easy and turn it into a project—your annual holiday party to say thank you to your employees for a great year.
1. Place a circle in the middle of the page for your project (Annual holiday party to say thank you to my staff)
2. Brainstorm the major categories of activities for the project (Food, Location, Entertainment, Activities, Drinks, Gifts/Awards, etc.) and represent these as spokes radiating out from your central circle.
3. For each of the main categories, brainstorm the next level of activities (For example, with Food: Decide on Caterer, Decide on menu, Order food, etc.). Note: Each of these can have subcategories as well.
4. To turn this into a project management project, you then need to add two things. 1. Dates (when does this activity need to be completed by) and 2. People (who is this task assigned to). Nothing is actionable until there’s a date and a person attached to it.
Now that you have those four things done, you have a project mapped out on one page (and that is critical for leaders who want to manage projects—it has to be on one page). You know all the major tasks and most of the minor tasks. You know when a task needs to be completed. And you know who’s responsible for that task—all on one page!!!
In fact, to help you see how powerfully this works in reality, I’m enclosing the project management sheet I just used to manage the transition of changing my company name from Accelerated Growth Consulting to Wired to Grow.
In addition, I’m also enclosing a picture of the actual project management sheet I used. This was a three week project and every week (and sometimes every day), all I had to do was look at which tasks needed to be completed by which day. Then, as each task was accomplished I simply crossed it off. And the result was that in three weeks, virtually all of the tasks were accomplished and my company name was successfully changed.
Now, if you’re wondering what makes this such a good project management tool for leaders, here’s what I’d say.
1. It’s simple, easy and quick to do. As you know, as leaders, we don’t have a lot of time for detail work.
2. Visually using circles vs. outlining just works better. Our minds don’t work linearly all the time. So using a non-linear approach produces a better result. You’ll like jumping around from topic to topic and then moving ideas from one group to another.
3. Using circles for the main sections makes it visually easier to see the structure of a problem far better than an outline.
4. Mind maps encourage brainstorming in a way that “to do” lists and outlines don’t. Just try it and you’ll discover the same thing.
5. It’s all on one page. I can’t overstate how important this is. As a leader, with way too many projects on your mind, you can’t keep flipping back and forth from page to page of an outline or to do list. You need everything on one page (with dates and assignments).
So, give it a try. And see what you think.
Also, if you’d like to try this using software, here are a few options
- http://www.mindjet.com/ (the big daddy)
- http://www.ithoughts.co.uk/iThoughtsHD/Welcome.html (for iPad)
To your accelerated success!
P.S. Don’t forget to take advantage of my “New Name” sale on two products that can take your leadership to the next level! Use the coupon code NEWNAME25 to get to $25 off of “HowLead People Who Don’t Think, Act and Feel Like You”
and coupon code NEWNAME15 to get $15 off of “How to Stop Dumping and Start Delegating Like a Pro.”
Note: this sale ends on Wednesday 11/23/11. So don’t procrastinate!