Poor project planning is a major problem facing leadership throughout the business world. We spend so much time putting out small fires that we run out of time to handle bigger things—we run out of time to move the mountains. But ultimately it is moving the mountains that propels a business forward. If your dealership can find the time for mountains, it will have a positive impact on the success of your company.
If you’re avoiding mountains because you only have time to put out fires, our 3-step method will help. It’s the perfect strategy for setting up solutions that span months and require multiple resources.
Every significant project should be broken up into three distinct phases:
It always begins with planning. Planning is the process of gathering intelligence and establishing strategy; it allows you to break a massive project into smaller, more achievable portions. At this stage, you immerse yourself in the situation you’re trying to solve in order to ensure success. Starting a project without this essential step leads to big trouble down the line, including problems with production and finishing. Here you make critical decisions about delegation that will ensure effective production or doom it to failure. Assigning a project champion will allow you to take a supporting role, freeing up your schedule while still ensuring the project will reach the finish line.
Once you have planned effectively, it is time to get to work—you must start production. The best way to produce is to create the right scenario with the right environment and the right mindset. Over time we’ve discovered we work best in our office with jazz music playing. In order to avoid distractions, we block off a calendar, so we know not to schedule anything in the time designated for producing. We suggest recording your progress and tracking your time. This allows you to see how much time you spend working on a project, so you set realistic expectations. Being able to say, “I got this much accomplished in 10 hours” feels a whole lot better than saying “I don’t feel like I got much done today.”
The last stage of a project is perfecting. Just like in football, the last few yards are often the toughest and most critical. Resistance mounts at a project’s end, but this last step remains the most crucial part of the process. When you produce, you’re not done. People often think that if they did the work, then the project is complete. That’s not true. Starting isn’t enough. You have to finish; you have to perfect. Seek input and feedback from other people involved in the project. During this stage, you have to give your work a fresh look. Rethink. Reconsider. Are there any loose ends you can fix? Is there anything that can be perfected? Remember what Steven Pressfield told us, “Resistance is the most powerful at the finish line.”
Good project management is a Herculean effort, much like moving mountains. It begins as a question, an idea, a dream, a need. Without your initiative, approval, and insight, these projects never develop and will never advance your business. But if you follow a strategic method aimed at project completion, mountains turn into molehills, and nothing can get in your way.