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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Simple Steps to Ensure Your Project Stands a Chance

Why does it happen so often that projects that are initially driven by passion and conviction quickly fizzle out, never to be remembered except with regret? My observation and experiences have produced a check-list that has helped many people, including me, bring projects into the real world. Perhaps this check- list is exactly what the doctor ordered, as it were, for your project.

1. What is the project? You may be overwhelmed by the instinct that something momentous and important must be pursued, and that you are the one "chosen" to bring it about. That instinct, that sense of mission, is actually a good thing, because it represents the drive by which visions are propelled. What you need to do is to create clarity on what the vision that must be driven by the energizing instinct is. Get yourself a piece of paper and, even if you start in a random manner, make a list of projects that can be pursued. You can even be wildly ambitious, and start with "build a hotel". Keep listing until something resonates. When you hit that sweet spot, write a paragraph, and keep writing till you dry out. When you are done, write a sentence that captures the essential aspects of what you wrote in the paragraph. That sentence should tell you what the project is.

2. Who needs it? Ask first, "do I need this project?" If you don't need the project and what it will do, abandon it. That is not the same as saying that you must pursue a project only for selfish reasons. The truth, however, is that for the project to succeed, you must need to do it. The need may be material, intellectual, emotional or spiritual, but that need is the flame that will keep the candle glowing. Next, ask "who else needs it?" At this point, it helps to become social. Ask a cross-section of your community whether a project like the one you are thinking of will be of use to them. If on the whole the answer is yes, then your project will be supported, enhancing its chances of sustainability and success.

3. Can it be done? For some projects, the answer is easy because similar things have been done before. For others, some imagination and thought needs to be invested. When you ask yourself this question, you help yourself to focus on real-world issues, and at the same time to work up the problem-solving adrenaline that enables us to tackle challenges. The question "can it be done?" also triggers an enlightening enquiry about method and capacity.

4. What is needed to do it? Here you are marshalling your resources, and the outlines of an actual action plan are beginning to emerge. By listing the needs of the project-human expertise, materials, financing and time- you are beginning to visualize the project, and this is a healthy indication that something will actually come of it.

Do please share your views and experiences on this topic by leaving your comment on this blog.

Jonathan Wutawunashe is a Project Execution Consultant and author of the motivational book Fulfill Your Threats.