Each week, we post a “Take 5” article to our website with tips, tricks, thoughts and actions we’ve come across during the week that we feel you may benefit from too.
It’s designed to be short and sharp that you can read when you need to “Take 5”.
Grab a drink, give yourself a (productive) break and check out our latest 5 below.
1.Feed the brain – Change is the name of the game
“Change your mind, Change your life”- is an-depth conversation on change, from why we avoid it to how you can make it the number-one weapon in your arsenal in this Entreleadership Podcast with guest speaker Seth Godin, Author & Entrepreneur.
We love it and hope you will to.
2. Rapidly develop collaborative documents online
Whether developing an initial Business Case to writing up the Project Closure Report, collaborative document development can be challenging, complicated and inefficient. Managing multiple versions of documents shared with various parties can fragment the message being delivered, while wasting precious time.
One trick we have used on numerous occasions is adopting the power of online solutions. While there are many different options available, we have found two particular solutions to meet our needs – depending on who you are working with.
Organisations with enterprise Microsoft Office365 licensing can utilise the power of OneNote. Create a new notebook, build out the bones of the document headings and share the notebook with those you wish to collaborate on. Updates occur in real-time as the team types away in their sections, and the content can be copied out to a document meeting the organisations styleguide.
Alternatively, Google Docs is another great example of online document collaboration, similar to OneNote – users can collaborate in real-time, with tracked changes and all the formatting goodness.
Next time you and your team need to build our a document, project plan or proposal, we recommend you try utilising the power of online document collaboration. You will wonder how you worked without it!
3. What do Projects and Ironman Triathlon have in common…?
This weekend our Managing Director Sam is competing in the Geelong Ironman 70.3 Triathlon race involving a 1.9km swim, 90km ride and finishing with a half marathon run.
With so much focus on “Race Day”, it is interesting to reflect on the reality that the race actually started 6 months ago – and highly aligns with the process of delivering a project.
It’s all in the planning
Similar to a project schedule, the process for competing in a long distance triathlon is about 6 (or more) months. Also similar to projects, race day (or “go live” day for projects) is about 6 hours, so assuming you do 4-5 hours training a week you’re looking at race day accounting for 5% of the actual effort, with 95% of effort in planning. As they say, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”.
From project implementation to triathlon training, both activities are going to have a large number of internal and external priorities and dependencies. Training in three separate sports, performing at work and supporting the family requires focus and planning to keep a balance. In the project world managing staff needs, third party systems, software vendors and other projects in the program is a constant process to ensure all stays on track.
Be adaptable to change
While in both projects and triathlon we do our best develop a clear plan for implementation, there will always be situations out of our control. Part of our planning needs to include an understanding that at times we will need to adapt, so we need processes to handle change. We’ve seen projects in Hobart that have been impacted by an Indonesian volcano eruption (yep, it’s true!). In triathlon we have seen sharks cause the swim to be cancelled resulting in the event being changed to a duathlon. Neither of these events were within our control, but managing logistics and head-state during these events is critical to the successful outcome.
Enjoy the journey
Projects and triathlon are long games with many stages. It is important to not just focus on the end result, but enjoy the journey. In projects we need to celebrate the planning, delivering sprints, hitting milestones and supporting the team. In triathlon, it’s about enjoying the rides, soaking in the sun, improving health and getting outside. Only focusing on the end-state is a good way to burn out, as there will be many hard yards to the finish line.
Recognise it’s a Team effort!
Project Managers and Triathletes could not do what they do without the team of support around them. From subject matter experts to business analysts, and Wives to friends, there are a large number of people involved in supporting the process – so don’t forget to show your appreciation to them.
4. The Difficult Conversation.
Almost everyone dreads the difficult, challenging conversation. This includes conversations in which we have to deliver unpleasant news, discuss a delicate subject, or talk about something that needs to change or has gone wrong. Because these kinds of conversations can create such discomfort, it’s natural and normal to want to avoid having them altogether. The problem with avoidance is that, in the absence of a situation resolving on its own, putting it off only allows it to continue and potentially get worse.
Planning and preparation can help turn down the volume of your apprehension and make it much more likely that the difficult conversations you need to have will be successful.
Following is our suggested plan for having a difficult conversation at work.
- Be direct. When having a difficult conversation, be direct and get to the point quickly.
- Be specific.
- Plan out the conversation.
- Watch your language.
- Offer a solution.
- Manage your emotions.
- Be empathetic.
- Allow the other person to ask questions.
5. A quote of the week
“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.” John F. Kennedy
Have a great week from the Tasmanian IT Team