Getting Started On A Project

There are many checklists for getting a project started – goals, time, measures, resources, task definition are on many of them. What do these checklists miss in assuring a successful project start?

Here are some things to reflect on as you initiate a project.

Open Space and Blue Sky

In your plan, have you made provision for open space that will foster creativity and innovation? You can do this by building in open space opportunities for the team to consider the project and what may be possible.

Handling The Unexpected

Many good project management plans build contingencies into their timelines and budgets. Do you have a process for handling disruptions and unforeseen events? You can create a process by which you and your team can identify and respond to the unexpected in an effective way.


Have you considered means to keep your project in balance for its duration? Think of a wheel – you align it so that it does not wobble. Balance is dynamic as opposed to static. You can address balance by setting, at the start of the project, the elements of balance (for example, not burning out, communication, problem solving) that you want to maintain and creating a way of periodically checking in on the project’s level of balance.

Problem and Weakness Ascension

Many team members are reluctant to identify problems and weaknesses until they reach the point where they are showing up on project timelines or budgets. At the start of a project, team members should know that early identification of problems and weaknesses is encouraged and contributes to success. You can do this by creating a “judgment-free” process for raising problems and weaknesses, as soon as they are identified.

Space for The Unknown

Beyond handling the unexpected, it is good to have a healthy respect for the unknown. You cannot anticipate all that will happen during a project. You can address the unknown by acknowledging its presence at the start. In doing this, team members will not feel pressure to stay on a planned course, even when circumstances have changed. By making space for the unknown, accommodation can be made to reset the course, when needed, in a timely and efficient way.

In future posts, I will go further in each of these areas. I’d enjoy hearing from readers if you are addressing any of these project elements and what you are finding about their usefulness.



Can You Manage in a Matrix?

Matrix organization: a cross-functional work team, which brings together individuals who report to different parts of the company in order to complete a particular project or task.

Managing in a matrix is laughable without established priorities, resource allocation and defined goals, fully supported by top management. How many matrix managers have that? Not many. The usual state of things is that the matrix manager is told to get it done without them. Top management is often deaf to their pleas regarding constantly shifting priorities, inadequate resources, team members operating in silos and having no clout.

Your success as a manager or project manager in a matrix depends on your ability to lead above you, beside you and below you. Start with well- defined goals for a project, assigned responsibilities and deadlines and get every participant’s agreement on them. If you don’t get agreement, stop and go no further. If you proceed without agreement, you are asking for frustration. At this point, look horizontally for buy-in or vertically for a champion. It’s about accountability for every member of the team, up, down and around. If you don’t create accountability, where are you going? You are going into a dysfunctional matrix that won’t be as much fun as the movie. Don’t live in a dream world that blinds you from the truth.

The matrix movie trailer (2:28)

You can manage in a matrix if you have a voice, guts, and an instinct for self – preservation (in case you can’t change the world).

Image: Ambro /