1. Form a team: Although this seems obvious, it is rarely achieved. The definition of a team is a group of people working together with a common goal. If one person on a team can succeed while the others fail, it is not a team.
  2. Estimate the time to complete tasks aggressively: This might seem counterintuitive to those that want to make sure they are successful (accomplish tasks on time). However, for example, if you have 30 tasks and every person adds a cushion to their task time, is it possible the project could take 4 or 10 times longer than it should? Sure. And, if you have 5 days to complete a task that could be completed in 1 day, does the extra time yield better results? No. I’ve found that people usually start working on the task on day 4. Instead, it is important to make reasonable estimates of time and stick to them. Why is this important to larger topics such as profit/ competitiveness? As an example, let’s assume that you are on a project team to reduce lead-time to customers from 10 days to 5 days, and that your competition delivers in 6 days. Do you think it will make a difference if this project is completed in 3 months vs. a year?
  3. Critical path: It is easy to get buried in the details of a million tasks within a project plan. Instead, find out which tasks are on the critical path (they must be completed before another task can begin and it is a task that is required for the project to be considered a success). Typically, it will be a small fraction of the total tasks. Then, as a project leader, focus and follow up on only those tasks.
  4. Celebrate “small wins”: Don’t wait for the end of the project. Celebrate successes along the way, especially those on the critical path. This will help keep the team focused and working as a team.