Declaring Victory

In the book, Bare Bone Project Management: What you can’t not do, Bob Lewis explains the seven must-have elements for any project to have a chance of succeeding. Here are my takeaways on the topic discussed in the book.

Bob Lewis talked about the 98% solution to the common causes of project “drift.”

It is also what Steven Pressfield called the Resistance, the fear of finding out whether it will work with the finish line in sight.

When the Resistance strikes the members of the project team, progress wanders, and everyone is waiting for others to take that next step.

The project manager can help by focusing each team member on their immediate task without drawing attention to the upcoming finish line.

1% is about not including the tasks required to put the project’s deliverables to productive use.

The last 1% is not knowing how to say, “Stop – we have finished.”

Finally, a project manager finishes and shuts down the project by:

  • Engaging the project sponsor in wrapping up.
  • Conducting the completion meeting and a celebration.
  • Delivering the post-project debriefing and archiving key project documents

Managing the Project

In the book, Bare Bone Project Management: What you can’t not do, Bob Lewis explains the seven must-have elements for any project to have a chance of succeeding. Here are my takeaways on the topic discussed in the book.

On a regular basis, plan the work and improvise with the plan. Bob recommended the following activities for project managers:

  • Manage progress against the plan.
  • Manage the emotional state of project team members.
  • Facilitate the group dynamics of the project team.
  • Manage the flow of great ideas that can change the project’s scope and deliverables.
  • Identify and develop contingency plans for potential risks.
  • Identify and resolve issues as they arise.
  • Communicate with all stakeholder groups.
  • Keep the business sponsor informed and involved.

The Launch

In the book, Bare Bone Project Management: What you can’t not do, Bob Lewis explains the seven must-have elements for any project to have a chance of succeeding. Here are my takeaways on the topic discussed in the book.

  • Take the time to conduct a launch meeting that makes it official that the project has started.
  • If possible, do two launch meetings. One for everyone – the core team, extended team, sponsor and key stakeholders. The purpose is to improve the alignment of team members and stakeholders.
  • The second launch meeting is for just the core and extended team. The purpose is to give team members their work assignments and discuss the tasks.
  • Announce the frequency of the follow-up, periodic meetings. This usually includes a weekly core-team meeting and a less-frequent (bi-weekly or monthly) full-team meeting.

Planning the Work

In the book, Bare Bone Project Management: What you can’t not do, Bob Lewis explains the seven must-have elements for any project to have a chance of succeeding. Here are my takeaways on the topic discussed in the book.

When it comes to figuring out the project plan, Bob has the following recommendations.

First, break down the large tasks into smaller chunks. Good project managers are also good at outlining things. The project manager should avoid the temptation of figuring everything out on their own. Delegate the finer details of task creation and breakdown to the team members as appropriate.

Second, finish groups of tasks with milestones. Milestones are easily recognizable markers that show exactly whether the project is on track.

Third, be careful of using all the bells-and-whistles that come with the project management tools. The important things that a project plan should be how we are meeting the deadlines with the resource we have on hand.

Finally, build slacks in the project plan to handle the unforeseeable events. Scatter the contingency tasks throughout the project to act as a buffer for the unforeseeable and potential show-stoppers.

Project Staffing

In the book, Bare Bone Project Management: What you can’t not do, Bob Lewis explains the seven must-have elements for any project to have a chance of succeeding. Here are my takeaways on the topic discussed in the book.

When it comes to project staffing, I like Bob’s advice.

Bob talks about the “we” vs. “they” mentality. We all have it as part of our basic human instincts.

To increase your odds of succeeding as a project manager, Bob recommends two tactics.

First, make sure everyone required for project success is part of “we.”

Second, make sure the project plan includes all tasks, and the majority of the “we” part of the project team perform those tasks.

Bob recommends the concept of having a core team and an extended team as follow:

The core team members perform the heavy lifting and are committed at least 50% to project tasks.

The extended team members are committed to the project with less time but do possess either special expertise or authority for certain tasks.

Set up the PACI (Performs, Approves, Consulted, and Informed) charts and keep as many tasks and decision within the “we” part of the team.

Understand the Project

In the book, Bare Bone Project Management: What you can’t not do, Bob Lewis explains the seven must-have elements for any project to have a chance of succeeding. Here are my takeaways on the topic discussed in the book.

One critical responsibility of project manager is to ensure members of the project team have the same understanding of the project.

Gaps in the understanding of the project cause people to make assumptions about it.

Different assumptions made by the project team members can often lead to conflicts, ineffectiveness, or, in many situations, loss of trust.

A project manager achieves a clear understanding of the project with these five elements.

  1. Objective: The defined business outcome that would warrant the investment of time, people, and resources. This is what “done” looks like.
  2. Context: Why the project makes sense, who are we doing this for, and what other projects or efforts it connects to.
  3. Goals: The specific business improvements or measurements that can tell us whether we are close to the objective.
  4. Scope: The project’s boundaries: What’s in and what’s out.
  5. Deliverables: The specific work products or output the project team is supposed to create.

Sponsorship and Governance

In the book, Bare Bone Project Management: What you can’t not do, Bob Lewis explains the seven must-have elements for any project to have a chance of succeeding. Here are my takeaways on the topics discussed in the book.

For a project to have a chance of success, it must have the necessary sponsorship and governance.

More specifically, the project needs to have:

  1. A defined business outcome that would warrant the investment of time, people, and resources.
  2. A sponsorship from at least one business executive who
    1. Personally wants the project done and is willing to take risks on its behalf.
    2. Has the authority to commit time, people, and resources.
    3. Has the authority and willingness to decide what does the “project done” indicator looks like.
  3. All stakeholders have to agree on how to govern the project. The governance defines who has the authority to make decisions about the different parts of the project.