Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Celebrating Victories on Projects

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. - Mother Teresa

Projects, deliverables, tasks and success are made up of little things. If people working on projects are going to care about little things, the people running projects better care about the little things. Many of them are too small to mention outside the team. That's fine. In fact, that's great. All success will begin with the team. Whether a project is just kicking off, maturing after the novelty has worn off or is stuck in the tar pits, as a project manager, you strength lays in the little things.

Recognize people for accomplishing them. Celebrate them. It doesn't have to be huge, but acknowledging the little victories will go along way.

Maybe there is some piece of data which the team needed to get access to, some GUI which needs to be built, some interface completed etc. They may be tasks, sub-tasks or just important work elements. The important thing is that there needs to be realization and celebration of progress that is being made. To keep morale up, people must see that progress is being made and that there is an end in sight, whether its success or the project being ended.

There are many ways to do this, email, blogs, discussions, team meetings are all good. There is one other way that I found very successful. Marking a bottle was also very useful.

Marking a bottle really works if everyone is in the same office. The way we did it, was to use a bottle of reasonably sweat liquor (Bacardi Limon was our choice). Whenever there was some success, we noted that success on a post-it note, put the initials of everyone involved and present and then poured each of them a shot. The post it note was then taped to the bottle so that the bottle was marketed with successes as the project went along. Similar things could be done with notes and pictures on a wall or web-page. At the point of the project we were on, we needed alcohol. Hopefully you don’t reach that same point.

When the project is in the tar pits or at any other time, remember and take advantage of the steps that are available to you.

  1. Identify how the project can be killed if necessary and admit that it is possible.
  2. Refine the scope so that nice to haves are on a “Not right now” list and critical items are the main focus.
  3. Make sure the communication channels between the project sponsor and PM and clear, with the team and with the organization are known.
  4. Celebrate victories that move the team forward.

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