Project planning is not the most headline-grabbing business function; that is until the project in question goes wrong! But every business must plan projects, whatever the sector or its scale of operation. And projects involve doing something new or different and therefore create a change. This highlights for me the two critical success factors that ALL projects must consider, the human participation in a project, and the purpose of the project.
A change was forced upon me this week. As I walked into my local train station I was confronted with a seasonal change: the Christmas shopper. As a commuter into a large City, I suffer the inconvenience of this breed of traveller every year. What this all means for me is change. So, when I wrote the term ‘suffer’ above, it is an exaggerated divergence. What I really meant is that my habits have been disrupted and I had to cope with a change in my routine.
A workplace leader needs to move people through a process so that progress can be made and change can be implemented. If not, a team focused on a problem can stay stuck in awareness of the issue, rather than moving through it into a productive pattern of solutions. The simple, but practical process, I have seen utilised is to move the sharing and response to a problem through 3 stages of questioning:
If you're a senior decision maker in your business you will be someone people look towards to solve problems. With this role comes the responsibility of leadership. You may be able to find answers when you are new to the role or your team but no one person has an endless supply of solutions for all situations. I get to work with many successful leaders and there are a few common traits I've seen in others that enable them to sustain their effectiveness as problem solvers.
Last year a company I know well that was growing and achieving high quality was broadsided by an external force that took away its profitability overnight. They had a senior management team of skilled, experienced and clever people. However, that team crumbled under the issue. Eventually just one was left and they've faced things head on and rescued the business.