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May 16, 2020

5 Guerilla Project Management Techniques

If you have just finished project management training and you are expecting to implement these magic disciplines in a new group, don’t. This article tells you how to lose hope and how to find it again by implementing key guerilla techniques that can lead to good, long-term project management discipline.

Why losing hope is (sometimes) necessary

Swiss psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross argued that people go through 5 stages of grief.

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Often, that seems to be what some people go through with the introduction of project management techniques. There are those that hold everything in their heads. Then there are those that prefer to get started and see how it goes, assuming people will gravitate towards what must be done. There are those who see planning and management as impossible – as if they have a fear of being organized. Some, like me, are just lazy. Traditional techniques work sometimes – although often not as well and most often not on complicated things.

We can watch resistant people go through all 5 stages. They will begin by denying the need for project management. Then they will be angry for having to devote time and energy to the process. They will bargain with you in an attempt to lower their work loads. They will soon become depressed, just wishing the project was over. Over time, they move to acceptance.

Reduce the pain with 5 guerilla techniques

Here are five guerilla techniques for gradually introducing project management discipline when you have determined doing it all at once is simply impossible.

  1. Set a regular meeting cadence. Consider a daily cadence with whatever leadership team you have. Use 15 minutes every day to figure out what really matters on that one day. People are generally willing to have a short meeting and, in the process, the leaders will discover what the top priorities need to be.
  2. Establish the leadership structure. You might be thinking “after setting up a daily meeting?” Yes. The process of discussing the direction of a project often identifies dependencies and the need to change or broaden the leadership team. It is also the forum where one can ensure the correct executives have been identified for oversight and guidance.
  3. Track decisions. This one thing can make a tremendous difference. Each time a decision is made, document that decision. Who made it. When. The rationale. Keep this list visible through an accessible medium that, ideally, everyone can see all the time. When a topic resurfaces, use the decision log to move beyond the topic – or in rare instances – assign someone to reopen the decision for further review.
  4. Focus only on deliverables. We say this all the time. Forget activities. Drive deliverables to finished. A deliverable is something you can point at, refer to, build on – electronic or tangible. A completed deliverable is like a base station that allows the project to move forward.
  5. Introduce a simple, one-page timeline. Many timelines are so complicated that only someone who loves timelines can get anything out of them. Consider a simple, one-page timeline organized by responsible leader with 5 to 10 key dates. Once a simple timeline is in place, allow detail to be added for those that benefit from more information.

Steps 4 and 5 are really hard. Some people will not know the meaning of “deliverable.” Some people will actively resist creating products that are approved and final.

And timelines depend on deliverables and understanding their relationship to one another. This is not for the faint of heart, but is essential if you want to keep a project moving in the right direction.

Even if all you are able to accomplish is steps 1 – 3, know that you have moved the team forward in important ways. And steps 4 and 5? They will come in time if you continue to ease your way toward them.

It’s time for you to join the guerrilla movement. And gradually convert your project and team into the high performing powerhouse you know is possible.

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