I’m excited to start a new blog series that will run over the next couple of months.  My goal is to write a blog on one habit per week, so technically we should get through all 7 habits in just shy of 2 months.  The content for this series has been developed over many years and hundreds of client projects.  In fact, in addition to applying the habits to all of our client projects, we often speak on these habits as part of a larger session we call “CPR”, where we discuss project rescue and how projects can avoid having to be rescued.  The ultimate goal here is to present these habits in a short and succinct manner, so that you can have clear takeaways to immediately put into practice on your projects.  So, without further ado, let’s jump in to the first habit.

Habit 1: Chart Your Journey


Think back to the last road trip you took.  My guess is, you didn’t just start driving in a random direction, completely unaware of where you were going, did you?  Ok, that was a bit of an exaggeration to make the point.  Let’s try another example.  Let’s say you want to go to the beach.  You have a car, you are all packed, and you start driving in the general direction of the beach.  Now, what I can tell you is that if you have a decent sense of direction you will find the beach.  It will probably have some sand and it will definitely have water.  But is it the beach you expected?  Is it a mile wide with beautiful, white sand?  Or, is it too dangerous for swimming and you have to find another beach?  What if it is the only beach around and it is not what you expected, then what?  The point is this: know exactly where you want to go.  Not in generalities, but in specifics.  Plan the exact beach to which you want to go, and you’ll have a much greater chance of reaching that destination.  Plan the exact path you will take, and your chances are even higher and you may save some time and money along the way.  See where this is going?

So analogies aside, to put this into practice, ask yourself (or your team), “What does done look like?” Before you begin your project, define what a successful project will look like, and you have set yourself up for success from the start.  As you can see, this habit can apply to all projects, but the title of this blog refers to technology projects.  “How are those different?” you say.  I’m glad you asked!

  1. Technology today, if done right, should provide fairly “quick” wins for the business.  In other words, you should not have to wait two years to see the first positive impact on your business.  This is a blessing and a curse, because it often takes experience and discipline to execute this well.  Experience has taught us that clients (or departments within a client) can quickly become shortsighted trying to implement various pieces of technology as “quick wins”, without validating whether or not they are following the roadmap that takes them to the right destination.  And unfortunately, this well-intentioned misdirection can lead to many small wins that cost money, consume time and soon fizzle, because they have no bearing on the goal the team set out to achieve.  We call that sugar - a short burst of something good, but it wears-off fast and does not provide long-lasting sustenance for the organization.
  2. I think we would all agree that a “phased approach” can apply to nearly any project, not just technology projects.  But they are critical in technology projects.  In fact, I could probably write an entire blog on why (and how) you should use phased approaches in projects.  A good rule of thumb is that no technology project should be completed in a single phase.  If you were driving cross-country, would you attempt to drive non-stop, coast-to-coast?  Of course not.  You would break your trip up into phases, or legs, and drive each one separately, stopping to re-grouping in between each one.  Here’s how to apply this:  As you are planning your project and developing your roadmap, if you have everything in a single phase then you have not thought far enough ahead about where you want to go or you are trying to do too much in a single phase.  It’s also key to remember that phases 2 through X don’t need to be 100% defined.  Especially as you get further out, you want them directionally correct, but you don’t need to have every detail mapped-out, just as your last leg of the cross-country trip, which is 2 weeks away, may not be 100% mapped out yet (at which gas stations will we stop?).

I hope this first habit has been helpful and relevant.  Again, the goal is to keep these short and sweet, so my desire is that you will be able to take away a few nuggets of wisdom and experience from this series.  Stay tuned for habit two next week!

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