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How to build discipline into anything like a Project Manager?

Whether it is any technology implementation or any transformation program, going about doing your job in a disciplined way always pays in the end.

There is a method to how we should get things done like a project. Be and act like a Project Manager.

Like a Project Manager, there are certain key tenets which you need to follow to get things done in an organised way.

  1. Focus on the outcomes, but start with the "why" question.

  2. Manage the work as a project - work to a plan!

  3. Communicate all the time.

  4. Break down all barriers that come between you and the task to be done

  5. Build and nurture relationships along the way

1. Focus on the outcomes:

Let’s discuss how you can focus always on the outcome of our work. First, sit with the person for whom you are doing this work (it can be an internal or an external customer or just be for yourself) and ask what problem they are trying to solve. You might ask if they have a specific vision of the final outcome they would like delivered. Sometimes, these people/customers do not know the answers and may lean on you to find the solutions to their problems.

It’s your job to ask questions like:

  • What is the problem you would like us to help solve? Example response: The customer wants to help develop a new process that would make their company more efficient.

  • How is the problem impacting your organization? Example response: The customer states that they are losing clients because of their current inefficient processes since clients are sometimes receiving a bad product or a poor quality service.

  • What prompted you to ask for help now? Example response: The customer says that they may lose their relevance or budget funding if they do not improve efficiency.

  • What is your hope for the outcome of this project? Example response: The customer states that their ultimate goal is to increase the speed at which they get the processes done without sacrificing quality.

Taking the time to find out the "why" behind the work being done can help better arrive at the solution and the outcomes. The more you understand the purpose of the work to be done, the more likely you will be able to produce what the customer is seeking.

2. Manage the work as a project:

When you look at the work to be done as a project you usually need to break that down into tasks and sub-tasks. Sounds simple? Yes but requires effort. You need a Plan. In that

  • You need to identify all tasks and sub-tasks that are required to get the work done.

  • Who will do what work (tasks/sub-tasks) is equally important? It is important that each task in the work needs to be assigned to someone who would ensure that it is done.

  • All tasks need to be time-boxed (with a start and end date) and that's very important for the outcomes.

  • To get the various tasks done in a project, teams are very important. Each person who is generally assigned specific tasks is responsible for the same.

Once a task is done, the person responsible for that task hands that part of the project over to the next person. Others (including team members) won't or don't always see the whole picture and how they impact others in a project. So become the glue or the project manager of all your projects.

For example, if a designer working on your mobile screen for your new app doesn't understand the customer’s overall goal as to why that page is there or needed, they may not be able to fully capture the value of the work being done. Helping this team member understand the big picture allows them to tailor their tasks to meet the needs of the project's end goal.

3. Communicate all the time:

Communication is key to getting things done in a disciplined way. A successful project manager communicates all the time about the progress of the project (work). They see the impact of each process within the project and communicate those impacts to all the relevant people (the team). This ensures that everyone working on the project understands their task goal as well as the big-picture goal for the finished product.

Communicating regularly (all the time) and with various stakeholders is important when getting things done in a disciplined way. As a true project manager would do, communication is the essence of project management. Whatever tools are required, and processes are needed to help communicate are needed to be used to ensure that communication happens with all stakeholders.

4. Break down all barriers that come in between:

Sometimes, when you ask why something is being done a certain way, the response you get is, “Because we’ve always done it this way.” To get things done you need to think and act like a project manager. A project manager adds value to a project when they break down barriers, allow their team to innovate new ways to do things, and empower them to share ideas. As a project manager, you have to model ingenuity and collaboration and encourage yourself and your team to do the same.

The way you can break down barriers on a project is by providing support for your teams as they try new approaches to find solutions.

5. Build and nurture relationships along the way:

Nurturing relationships can help build the discipline to get things done in a smooth way (read with less friction). The people who add the most value are the ones who take the time to build relationships, communicate, and treat others with consideration and respect.

Getting into a discipline can help you set the tone for the work to be done and build relationships within all your teams and with stakeholders. Taking the time to check in daily with your team, see how they’re doing, and ask if there is anything they need help with can go a long way towards making them feel valued and heard.

Key takeaway

You have now learned how to do your work in a disciplined way. You need to take charge and become the Project Manager for all your work. Treat your work like a project. By focusing on the outcomes, creating a plan, fostering relationships and communication, and breaking down barriers, you can overcome obstacles and find solutions to succeed.

Ravishankar Gopalan

Certified Project Management Professional


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