Don't you think it is amazing how we often become scared of things that are unknown, or that we have heard about from others, but never experienced ourselves? Still to this day, say the words, chemistry, physics, or calculus, and my brain automatically kicks into fear and anxiety mode. A few of these courses I have never even taken. As a matter of fact, ask me to go either skydiving or take a physics class, and guess which one I will choose, crazy as it may seem.
Well, the same goes with project management; people often think you need some advanced degree or super-high level of intelligence to be an effective project manager. We, at Langevin, never believe in making something more complicated than it really is. As a matter of fact, we are all project managers already. Think about it. Have you ever planned a party, a vacation, a wedding, or a funeral? If so, then you’ve managed a project!
The project management process is very similar in the business world as well. At Langevin, we teach a straight-forward four-step process that can take the fear out of project management. As an example, let's apply this four-step process to planning a party and you will see what I mean.
Step 1: The Beginning/Concept Phase
Before you do anything, you first need to identify and define—or scope out—your project: a party! Identify your priorities. Why a party now – what is its purpose? For example, a child’s birthday party versus a graduation party versus a Super Bowl or Halloween party will have a completely different approach. Remember to identify the support you’ll need. Whose buy-in will you need regarding actually having the party, its theme, etc. – your spouse’s? In-law’s? Other? Defining your project now will help you reach your goal, as well as make the other three steps easier.
Step 2: The Planning Phase
I think this step is self-explanatory. A poorly planned party could very well become quite boring. During this phase you need to flush out the details and decide who is going to help you with the party and what each helper’s role will be. Someone could be in charge of food, another beverages, while a third the entertainment. You will also need to identify any deadlines that need to be met so everything can come together on the big day.
Step 3: Execution Phase
Step three occurs when the party is actually happening. Your role is to supervise and coach. Remember you are the host of the party, and are responsible, to a certain degree, for your guests’ enjoyment and safety. It is important to be visible to your guests and to keep the channels of communication open with your helpers.
Step 4: Close-Out Phase
Now that the party is over, it’s time to process what happened. In other words, think about what went well, and identify those things that could be improved upon for your next party. It's all a learning process.
So there you go. You just managed an important project—a successful party! Should you like to learn more about the four phases of project management, how they apply to managing a training project, and get some great templates and job aids, then feel free to sign up for our next Project Management for Trainers workshop.
In the meantime, pass me the chips and salsa, please!