It's T-minus ten days and counting until launch, and your project is languishing on the launch pad. Will it fly? Will it fizzle? This is a recurring nightmare for change agents and project leaders hell-bent on speed, yet shackled by time-consuming procedures and slow teammates.
It's standard operating procedure for project managers to invest months in quality-control phases prior to the launch of a product or a Web site. The drawing board-to-market cycle time, however necessary, is costly and exhausting. But Paul Hurley has a better idea.
CEO of Aveo Software, Hurley says he has guided his own company's product through three iterations to arrive at its current design and structure. Here, he offers tips for change agents eager to launch a new program, project, or product quickly and successfully.
Build a culture that accepts microfailures and cares most about the speed of response. Don't yell at people for making mistakes; instead, get angry with people who make mistakes and don't fix them quickly. The chances of macrofailures will be reduced exponentially.
Fresh Fish Don't Stink
Ideas are more like fresh fish than shiny stones. We live in a world that is organic and changing, so any good idea will turn into a bad idea if you sit on it long enough.
Press the Restart Button
Stop residue from a previous experience from infecting a new project. Try to objectify the lessons from the last project, and then take a shower and start again.
Define Your Limits
You need to understand what constitutes success and failure for you and your project or company. Sometimes the most obvious things like revenue are ignored. At the end of the day, all great managers want people working to deliver the big corporate goal — not some sideline goal.
Combine skepticism and optimism. Being an optimist throughout the duration of a project is a huge plus, but you have got to take in all the data. You will need to recognize when certain ideas are effectively irrelevant.
Create a Scenario
Ask yourself what would happen under different circumstances, and try to figure out what you would do. By preparing for both success and failure, you have a better chance of moving more smoothly over the bumps in the road.
Keep Digging Deeper
When you get in a hole, take a little more risk. Look outside of your project, and try to figure out a way to make the changes needed, even if they're traumatic in the short term.
Keep Change Under Control
Constantly changing the direction of projects can lead to frustration, but it's also important to explore and redefine projects on a regular basis. Allow both investigation and implementation to coexist by sticking to a business plan everyone agrees with until it's clear that the plan needs to be changed.
Measure Your Progress
You must have a mechanism to measure your progress that is congruous with your definition of success.