Beyond Execution

Making a difference in project management by training, speaking and writing


Begin with the End in Mind

Posted by beyondexecution on October 31, 2011 at 7:25 PM

If this phrase is familiar, it's because it's one of the seven habits of highly successful people, which is a best-selling book by Stephen Covey. In the context of one of the habits, it's about self-discovery and establishing your overall values and goals. It's a very powerful technique, which is to envision the person and the success you want, then consistently moving towards that vision.


I apply this technique when I practice project management, at both a higher level and at a slightly more granular level.


From an overall project perspective, I envision what a successful project should look like, from it's overall deliverables, to the team performance, and to the customer reaction. From that very vivid picture, I can create success factors, metric targets, risks and assumptions and key dependencies.


At a more granular level, here are just a few things where they apply:

1. Meetings, particularily status meetings

2. Presentations

3. Problem solving

4. Email writing


Let's take the first one. If I am chairing a meeting, I have a clear objective of what I want to get out of that meeting. I can work backwards to figure out what kinds of discussions and decisions need to be done in order to arrive at that objective. I can steer the meeting so that I don't go off track. And if I've accomplished my objective before the time is up, then the meeting is over. On the flip side, if I am a participant, then I want to clarify my purpose at the meeting, what opinions that I want to express and ensure others understand them, and any decisions I want to make before I leave. For me, it makes for a very focused session and a good use of my time.


On presentations, I'll imagine who my audience is, what they want to know, and what information I want them to leave with. The last part is the most important one: what good is the presentation if they walk away without understanding the key messages? From there, the slides, the content and the flow all support that end objective.


See how this works? When you start applying this technique over and over, it becomes second nature. And it makes you a much stronger communicator. See the pattern? It's all about communication and how to get your point accross.


There's a ton of other areas to apply this technique, simply try it and you'll be surprised how easily things come together, whether it's drafting emails or just conversing with others. For me, it's the most powerful way of thinking that has driven much of my success.

Categories: Project Management Tips, Soft Skills

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