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Ramp it Up

January 15, 2013

The newness of a year, project, assignment or goal pulls us forward with such enticement.  It brings to mind a clean slate full of possibilities.  The feelings of a fresh start are enough to get us going with gusto…that is…until we hit that first slippery spot.  That initial rough patch is always unexpected regardless of whether we have encountered it before or it’s entirely new.  Many times, when not nipped in the bud, it’s that initial slip that sets off the line of dominoes and we find ourselves in reactionary mode all too quickly.  Following are some tips to assist with setting things up better from the beginning and also for stopping the collapse of the dominoes once in progress.

At the onset…

1.  Don’t rush into action.  Take the time to understand the expectations and set appropriate, realistic goals.

2.  Reflect on similar experiences.  What was learned from previous experiences that can be applied now?  Include both the best practices as well as improvements that ideally fix previous time wasters/downfalls at the root level.

3.  Look at the assignment/goal from different perspectives to help identify useful information such as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  Design a plan that maximizes the strengths and opportunities and minimizes the weaknesses and threats.  Be as objective as possible to avoid over or under confidence.

4.  Involve relevant people as early as possible.  They can help with all the preceding points by contributing their knowledge, experience and questions.  In turn, it allows them      to become fully engaged and committed with a deeper level of ownership.  This sense of ownership stands to provide recurring support and benefits throughout the course of the effort.

5.  Schedule proactive calendar time throughout the course of the initiative.  Utilize this time to both evaluate how to stay ahead of the curve and to take forward moving action.

Stopping the dominoes…

1.  Instead of trying to chase the trail (which can be futile) step back and come up with a plan to head off the falling pieces at the pass.  Most often, taking the step back to regroup and use intellect to drive the solution is much more effective than flailing, thoughtless, desperate approaches.

2.  Instead of trying to chase the trail (which can be futile) step back and come up with a plan to head off the falling pieces at the pass.  Most often, taking the step back to regroup and use intellect to drive a solution is much more effective than flailing, thoughtless, desperate approaches. (yes, this was a purposeful duplication of point #1).  The step back seems to be one of the most un-natural things to do when faced with an unexpected/crisis situation, yet having a clear head before acting typically saves much time and frustration.

3.  Accept that sometimes, a band-aid  solution will have to be applied in order to minimize current damage.  Be sure to note this as a possible area for future root cause improvement.

4.  Communicate early and often.  This opens the door for necessary support should it be needed, it also allows control of the messaging (and reduces the amount of time spent on political damage control).

Initial:  “We’re experiencing a problem with x.  The team is evaluating the situation and will have a corrective course by Friday.  We may need additional support.  I will keep you posted.”

Second:  “We’ve completed our evaluation and  have begun corrective actions.  If we keep the current resources and budget, we will be delayed by three weeks.  If we can gain an additional test resource and $5k to expedite a prototype, the delay can be reduced to one week.  Please advise.”

Third:  “Thank you for your support. The delay was reduced to one week.  Additionally, we have found a way to make up the one week by  completing some future tasks in parallel.  As a result, we are on track to meet the initial plan.  Again, we could not have done this without your support.”

5.  Keep calendar commitments to work on proactive tasks to avoid inadvertently setting off another row of dominoes

It is possible to extend the appeal and success of a new endeavor through proactive activities at the onset and thoughtful actions while in the throes of an unexpected occurrence.

Please share your thoughts on ramping up initiatives for best success.

© Viage Partners 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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