Published in “Project Times” website, January, 2012
Click here for original article.

As we start off the New Year, it often takes a while to get back into the swing of things.  Thus, project results can become delayed or dampened while ramping back up to speed.  Instead, in today’s new normal business environment, where sales are lackluster and cash is tight yet service is paramount, there isn’t a moment to lose on achieving critical project results.

One of the best ways to accelerate project results is to orchestrate a small, quick win.  A quick win gives the project team a reason to celebrate success and become re-energized on the project objectives.  It reminds the team of where they left off, why the project is important to the executives and company objectives, and it gives the team members a way to kick off the New Year with recognition.

Undoubtedly, there are countless quick win possibilities for every project team yet achieving them when you need them can be a challenge.  So, what are a few tips to ensure your project team achieves a quick win?  1) Reengage.  2) Ask Questions.  3) Pick a “win”.

    1. Re-engage:  First, you must reengage your project team!  Don’t expect your team to continue where they left off.  Even if they wanted to do this, there have likely been too many distractions over the holidays.  Instead, kick off the New Year by bringing your team together. Reengage with them.  Back up for a few minutes and discuss why the project is valuable.  Recognize each team member for their part of the project success thus far or their key role in the project.  Remind the team of the critical path and where they left off.  And last but not least, reengage as the project leader.
    2. Ask Questions:  It’s surprising how simple it is to ask questions yet this secret to success is often overlooked.  First, find out where you project team stands.  Ask them what they think is most important to ensure success?  Is timing critical?  Resources?  Overlap with other departments or external resources?  Encourage debate and brainstorming.Find out which are the most critical upcoming tasks. Why? Is everyone on the same page? If not, why not? Should we incorporate any tweaks given the progress so far?  Ask about potential roadblocks. Listen carefully.
    3. Pick a “win”:  Choose a small, quick win as a project team.  Most importantly, ensure everyone is on the same page.  Ensure everyone has an opportunity for input and feedback.Then, develop or clarify a plan to achieve the quick win.  Make sure the leader of each project task understands its importance.  Communicate in advance that a critical path task is coming up.  Encourage teamwork.  Do not dictate; instead, participate.Plan to celebrate the win.  Begin promoting the importance of the quick win immediately to key stakeholders and executives.  Your #1 job as project leader is to ensure the quick win is perceived as a quick win!

The power of a small, quick win is incredible – there’s nothing like it to gain momentum.  It isn’t complex, expensive or time consuming yet it can propel your project forward in the New Year.  Why not reengage your project team to plan a quick win immediately?