Have you ever felt like your wheels are moving really fast, but you are simply not going anywhere? Not too long ago, I felt this way and I felt I could not do anything about it. The truth is, there was something I could do about it, but just did not know how. Here are a few things I learned along the way to move projects forward and complete objectives. I hope they are as helpful to you as they were to me.
Establish clear objectives
If you do not know where you are going, it is really easy to get lost and not reach your final destination. You must align on clear objectives from the start of the project with your team and cross-functional partners. Your objectives should include key milestones, success criteria, and timing.
Plan and prepare for the unthinkable
It is very difficult to plan for the unthinkable, simply because it is unthinkable. The best you can do is plan with what you do know and try to include a contingency plan in case your original plan fails. It is important to create a sensible plan, which makes sense for everyone and is not unreasonable. This plan should be shared out to the team and cross-functional partners to make sure everyone is aligned.
Work smarter, not harder
This is a cliche, but works! You do not want to take short cuts, but you also do not want to do extra work that does not support your plan to reach your objectives. Do not mistake this as an excuse for being lazy, but use this as a way to complete your work intelligently. You should also leverage your resources when possible to help free yourself up for other activities.
Communicate final results and close out
Lastly, you must communicate your final results and close out the project. A project is not complete until you close it out. If you do not close it out with a final communication, the project will stay open and may give others permission for different interpretations. Your communication should provide background on the project, key milestones, and final results. You may also want to include next steps if applicable.
These four parts have helped me tremendously in my career. It is absolutely crucial to establish clear objectives and communicate final results and close out to complete a project. It is not critical to plan and work harder, not smarter, but we must keep in mind these parts will help you become more effective in your career.