As project managers, Anita and I have a reputation for being super organized.
Once upon a time a friend even introduced me as “super organized, down to the minute.” The way she said it made it seem as though it was my super power, a skill set I was granted at birth and now sprinkled upon every project I managed.
I’m not going to lie, those words certainly warmed my project-manager heart. But, something gets lost when we look at “being organized” as a skill in and of itself. Because here’s the deal: I’m only super organized because I communicate clearly or at least try to. Being organized means nothing if one can’t communicate what’s needed and what’s happening to themselves and to someone else.
Communication in this scenario looks like a lot of different things. Sometimes it’s a to-do list for myself. Sometimes it’s a written document that explains the plan for the day. Sometimes it’s a phone call to a stakeholder.
Either way, I communicate so that everyone – myself included – clearly understands their roles and our expectations of them. I also communicate what’s happening around them. I don’t assume. I call, email, text and leave a paper trail so everyone can fully understand and grasp what’s needed.
Sometimes it feels silly to write down every detail for an event or project. Sometimes it feels redundant to make another phone call and confirm. After all, if we’ve talked about it – why do we need to document? Why do we need to follow up? Because we’re human. People forget and things happen.
It’s one reason Reach Partners always pulls together an HBB document, also known as show-flow or a project implementation plan. (HBB stands for “hit by bus,” a nod to an unfortunate event that can put a planner or a leader out of commission. We hope this never happens, but we’re prepared if it does.)
This document or documents outline the materials, people, time, roles and needs that are required to execute the many moving parts of a project. Sometimes the document may include a script or messages to stakeholders or other supporting materials. At Reach we always create a go-to document, not for the sake of a document, but to clearly communicate the need, goal, actions, and resources. After all, if we can’t communicate these things, it doesn’t matter how good our plan is.
Hmmmm … sounds like we’re organized!
The primary goal of a project document is to outline the requirements of a project or event. But it fills a lot of other valuable purposes: it helps to bring someone new to the project up to speed. Or if someone doesn’t show-up, it provides an easy way for someone to jump in and take over another role.
Yes, project management requires organization. Still, so much of it is about communication.
When everyone knows just where they need to be and at what time, it looks organized. When everyone understands what they need to do (and can easily refer to a document if they forgot), I have to admit – it looks “super organized.”
Maybe that’s my super power, after all.