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Getting Off To A Great Start

Posted on January 11th, 2016 by in Chemical R&D

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Whether you’re starting a new project, a new phase of work or a new year, getting off to a great start can make a real difference. Hitting the ground running and building, or maintaining, momentum is often easier said than done though.
Just as we looked at some steps to finishing well last time, in this post I’ll go over a couple of things I’ve learnt to spend more time on when starting something new.

Decide Where You’re Heading
People doing this badly is perhaps my biggest professional pet peeve. So many times I’ve seen projects start without a clear goal or end in mind. It very rarely ends well.

Starting a project, or in fact any kind of task, without a clear sense of what you’re trying to achieve is a recipe for disaster. Without being able to clearly lay out and communicate what the end point looks like, it’ll be almost impossible to work out when you’ve finished. When should you stop working? When should you move on to the next thing? When is enough enough?

It may well be that you’re expecting the exact shape and detail of your final destination to emerge as you work through problems and move towards a solution. If that’s the case, set you’re end point to be something sooner – perhaps with the production of a complete requirements spec or plan for a de-risking activity. Whatever you choose, decide an end point that you can envisage and quantify. If you need to, you can reassess when you get there.

Before you do anything else, work out what your destination is going to be. Be as explicitly clear as you can and write it down. You’ll thank yourself later.

Put A Plan In Place
Now you know where you’re heading, it’s time to focus on how you’re going to get there. It’s time to put a plan in place.

Resist the urge to dive right in and get to the “real” work and spend some time mapping out your route. At the core of a good plan is the answer to this question:
“Who will do what by when?”

A good plan covers all three of those elements – Who, What and When. The lines of responsibility should be drawn and everyone working together on a project should know exactly which elements they have to deliver, and when they are needed by. That way it’s much harder for tasks or actions to fall through the cracks. Everyone is working on the same page and details are less likely to be overlooked.

No matter how small the project is, time invested up front planning how things will come together and what some of the potential sticking points will be, is time well spent.

Get Moving

With a well defined end-point and a plan in place it’s time to get moving. If you’ve done the two steps above well you’re already ahead of a huge number of projects. Remember to revisit your plan and defined goals though. They should be useful tools, not just something you produce in the beginning and then forget.

 

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