Imagine all of the sudden you decide to go on a camping trip. So you round up your spouse and the kids, jump in the car and head out. No supplies, no route, camping equipment, site, food or proper clothes. When asked about all these things, you respond by saying, “We’ll figure it out as we go along.”
I’m no camping expert, but I know that this is a silly way to go about camping. Talk about a recipe for disaster.
But here is the thing… even though most people would never go on a camping trip without determining a site beforehand, planning out the best route, deciding how much food they’ll we need to take and how many days they will stay, I’ve seen first-hand many practices that have embarked on more than one project with the same carelessness.
“What is the plan for the transition?”
“Too busy right now. We’ll figure it out as we go.”
I’m no project management expert, but that is a silly way to about conducting a project at one’s practice. No wonder many projects end up taking longer, are more expensive and cause more headaches than expected.
To get a better understanding of the project, we should ask ourselves these questions:
1 – What is the project?
It is important to write down the project because writing it down actually means something. If you have it in your head, you don’t really have a project. You just have an idea.
2 – When is it due?
The more specific, the better.
3 – Who is responsible for this project to succeed?
You can add all the team members, but ultimately, there has to be somebody that is THE responsible person.
Who is your customer?
4 – List the names of people that you are trying to please.
It could be your boss, your patients, your parents, voters, the board of directors or anybody else. It is important to list them because there is a good chance that you might lose sight of why you are doing this project. And when you do, it is helpful to know who you are doing this project for.
5 – Who are the authorities, influencers and gatekeepers?
List all those names under this question. These are the people that actually matter. Everybody else, you can ignore.
6 – Who is essential to the success of your project?
In every project, there are always key people that must embrace the project for it to succeed. List the individuals or committees or groups of people.
7 – What does perfect look like?
Often times, we start out a project without really thinking about what the end results is supposed to look like. Consequently, we lose direction. For this question, it is important to be as specific as possible.
8 – What does failure look like?
Failure is an important aspect of project that one must consider. For starters, failure is almost a sure thing. Thus, understanding what it looks like helps one steer away from it.
9 – How would you plus it?
Here is the stuff you put down when one says, “you know what would be cool?” List 5 or 10 things that would make your project that much better.
10 – How would you minus it?
Just like adding little things to make your project a little better, there are other things that you ought to consider that don’t add anything to the project. These are the things that if you take away from your project, you will actually improve it.
The best strategy one can embrace before beginning a project is to gain clarity on the task at hand. And with these 10-questions, you’ll gain the perspective required to ensure your project gets off to the right start.