Big Steps And Little Ones -

Big Steps And Little Ones

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Whatever project one has worked on over the years inevitably involves both big steps and little ones. The little steps are all the incremental activities necessary to make the big steps possible.

Colleagues, competitors, friends, and family tend to recognize the big steps, but it seems appropriate to take a little time to honor those that make the small ones possible as well. We are all dependent on the good works of others and couldn't possibly get our jobs done without them.

In the course of normal events we often forget to properly recognize the janitorial crew that makes our offices habitable, or the accounting group that make sure the paychecks arrive on time. It could be the technician making all those tiny little wire crimps or staying late after work to make sure the equipment is properly burnt in before it ships.

It may be the gardener who makes your facility attractive to clients. It's also the code writer that just wrote that 8-line piece of code that makes the system actually work as intended. Perhaps it was someone else doing your laundry so you could stay late last week, or your pet greeting you at the door and cheering you up after a particularly hard day. It could have been the human resources recruiter that found a couple of key individuals for you six months ago. Maybe even your boss for firing a bad egg two years ago to open up a position for you. In short, bringing any project to fruition requires setting good plans and good support throughout the entire effort.

Some of the key big steps that enhance the little ones are:

Making sure the goal is clear to everyone involved. There needs to be commonality of opinion of what constitutes a finished product. Complex and long-duration projects can easily go astray if the end goal is not universally shared. One way to ensure this is to hold a group meeting and have someone else explain your goals to the group. If they can't, then you've not done your job well.

One of the most important leadership techniques is to continue to speak positively about the end goal even when frustrated. This is part of the "maintaining thrust" effort. When the effort is completed, this will help others take pride in their work.

Planning the incremental little and medium steps is equally important. We've all got some sort of project software that can help in this effort. If both the big and little steps are going in the right direction and order, it will keep us from spinning around in circles achieving nothing.

Occasionally, you need to just stop talking and start doing! One of my colleagues continually belts out, "Less cackling and more spackling" throughout the course of a project. Admittedly, it does offend a few occasionally, but the point is made and generally the work continues at the pace intended, as opposed the more leisurely pace encountered.

Do it now, not later! While there are inevitably dozens of reasons to not start an effort, the basic recognition that once something is started any and all delays cost money. We probably can all recall our own pet incidences where this axiom held true. Your labor costs can expand dramatically just waiting for the smallest part if you're not careful on an install.

Every single project involves obstacles, both real and imagined. Real ones may involve insufficient resources, difficult time constraints, or quality limitations-just like the imagined ones. Putting a good team together and maintaining quality communication is the key to working out these types of obstacles. One must accept that there will always be obstacles to overcome. One of things you're getting paid for is to overcome them.

Research your goal. I left this one towards the end on purpose, figuring that most of the objections that are raised to the list would lay here. Research is vitally important to any project. Recognize that the team will continue to learn throughout the course of the project, and often learn more than ever imagined at the project's outset.

Going forward with an effort inevitably requires the team to become experts on many different subjects. One might argue that the very act of going forward is what often drives others to learn more than they would have had the effort been held initially.

True leadership involves both defining the goal and maintaining continual thrust throughout the course of the project. Recognizing the importance of all those involved is typically the key to success. It's a matter of recognizing the importance of big steps and little ones.


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