A School For Tomorrow


We need to work through improving our skills in project management – how we make specific choices to construct plans and achieve our goals in a timely and resource-effective fashion.
One of the defining features of the way in which our world goes about what it does is that it divides up the doing of things into projects. A project is a way of setting a goal and drawing into the achievement of that goal all of the resources that will be needed to complete the goal in a timely fashion. Many projects are limited in their time-frame; others stretch out in phases that link one goal to another to another. All projects should, ideally, be linked to a central idea about what we are trying to achieve personally, socially, or professionally. There should be, therefore, a compelling rationale, a reason why we come together to do this thing that is linked to a story of moving from yesterday to today to tomorrow. It is this narrative that is and will be most helpful for all of us in understanding what we are trying to achieve and why we are doing it. After all, if we are going to commit ourselves to doing something, we had better know the intention behind it and the value that achieving this intention will bring to ourselves, to others, to our organisation and so on.

When we have considered the “why”, we need to turn our attention to the “how” and the “what”. The value proposition that sits behind the “why” of a project is critical in uniting all of the people involved. In the same way, we need to share the “how” with the members of the team and those whom they are serving. This begins with the vision behind the project (where we going to) and the vocabulary that we will use to describe the strategy (how we will get there) and culture (the way we will do things to help us get there) that we are putting into place as a result of the project. Finally, we need to agree on the rate, frequency and velocity of change that this project will bring about – this is the “what” that will determine the expectations and standards for performance and the way in this will be brought about. All of this will make a project fit for purpose and this, of itself, implies that the project is doing something of significance that will bring about a meaningful transformation in how we learn, live, lead and work individually or collectively.
"First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end."
There is a specific set of management skills to do with how we organise time, break down goals into tasks, allocate responsibilities and resources, supervise and provide feedback, send through reports up down and sideways in an organisation. There are many approaches to this which can be studied as well as a whole range of modern project management digital tools to assist with how we connect people to the task and to each other. The key to all of these is to build an understanding of both structure and flexibility. We need to know very clearly what needs to be done, by whom, with what and by when. This is the detail that all of us need to establish clarity about the roles and responsibilities. We need to know who will give us direction and feedback. At the same time, we need to keep an eye on the big picture to ensure that we can adjust what we are trying to do on an ongoing basis to account for the human and other variabilities. In short, as soon as we put a plan into play, it will and must change because the world around it changes, as do the people within it.

This means that we will need to be able to paint and repaint the pictures of what success looks like for people as we go along the stages of the project. We will need to stay focused on the tasks at hand while knowing what is likely to come next. We will need to know how it all fits together and why we are doing it. We will need to maintain good, open channels of communication and take into account the different ways that people can express their various moods as they tackle the work together. We will need to establish norms of behaviour to ensure we know who we are (the belonging of civil character), how we work together (the fulfilment of potential of performance character) and the values we are seeking to uphold (the doing of what is good and right inherent in moral character). We need to know how people will be rewarded for their efforts, especially how much and when they will be paid. We need to know how to hold them to their commitments and keep the project from over-running its budget. We will need to know how we make decisions and gather the evidence on which those decisions might be made properly. We will need to create systems that bring people together and help them to be more efficient with their time and more effective in achieving the required standard.

And, most of all, we will need to do the work and get the job done!

We can contemplate our mastery of our Project Management by considering the following questions:
    • Am I able to relate the mission and vision of the organisation to the work at hand and help those around me understand and be energised by the connection?
    • Do I bring open-mindedness and the ability to adapt to new information, uncertainty and change to current and future projects?
    • Do I help my team or group resolve issues that get in the way of progress, tap into everyone’s knowledge and idea, and achieve the desired goals?
    • Am I good at designing systems and pathways for information gathering, decision-making, implementation and evaluation?
    • Do I help the team drive towards the most creative and innovative decisions, solutions and results?