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Archive for the ‘Project tools’ Category

Persistence and Practice; Project training essentials

Years ago, I worked on a project where we took a legacy horse race rating system used by a bookmaker and upgraded it to a modern technology platform. I spent a lot of time with guys who were professional gamblers, they were incredibly knowledgeable about horses and horse racing. They had a methodical practice that took hours each day, doing what they called, ‘rating the race.’ This was a practice that to an external observer (me) involved watching the same horse race over and over again until you had gleaned every last piece of information possible from it and had ‘rated’ (or scored) each horse in that race. After that, the race itself would be rated, and so would many other details that they had been trained to look for. This bespoke system they had developed of rating horses, races, conditions and riders all contributed to their knowledge about how the horse would perform over time. What they had observed over years, was that a horse would improve incrementally for a period but was also capable of ‘jumping’ very quickly up a few levels in performance and it was this jump that they carefully watched for in their rating statistics. It was their ability to be ready for improvement that gave them a competitive edge. Like horses, us humans, can sometimes give the impression of making an improvement very quickly the quintessential “overnight success.” Improvement requires practice and it’s never quite clear when we’re learning something new, when we’re going to improve or whether that breakthrough will happen at all. The constant practice and search for improvement can be a bit daunting and demoralising at times. This week, I was lucky enough to be present for one such improvement breakthrough moment. One of the users we’ve been working with on a project appeared in the doorway of the cupboard/ workroom that we’ve tucked ourselves away in. “I’m so happy, I have to share!” He was beaming from ear to ear. He went on to explain his breakthrough. He has been on the project team since the beginning and has been an active participant the whole way, but it has been difficult terrain. His commitment has never wavered, but we can tell that he’s struggled with the way the new system works, there have been a lot of confused looks and ‘why are we doing this?’ moments over the last few months.  His breakthrough was the result of persistence and practice. He reminded me of the importance of practice, and the absolute necessity of training for the job that people will do with their team. It’s a much more exploratory to learn but it pays off in these moments when someone gets the reward of their own efforts. We’ve spoken before about what it takes to deliver training in a project.  Over the many projects that we've worked on, and people that we've worked with, we learn more about how to better deliver training.  This breakthrough highlighted to me, the importance of persistence and practice. In this situation, we had also used the technique of having a ‘training buddy’ someone to work things out with, a fellow explorer in the new system. This mirrors a development practice in agile process, where two developers work together at the one screen. So the week's learning has been: Practice, practice and more practice! Celebrate the breakthrough moments (we did!) and acknowledge people for their persistence; Buddy up – two heads have more observation power than one! If you are struggling with the best way to train on a new system, get in touch.  We buddy up with retailers to equip internal teams for the project efforts ahead. Our project management tools are light and flexible for retailers. The 6R team work behind the scenes, leading through project management, testing, training and team building to deliver project success.

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Learning New things is Hard (especially in projects)

We’ve reached ‘that stage’ in the project, the learning curve is steep. Last week one of my team members was showing people how to open multiple browser windows and explaining that this was not a feature of the browser-based system they’re training on but rather of browsers themselves. It was enlightening! The learning path ahead is going to be a bigger effort than I had expected for this team. To get a project off to a good start the internal people need to get the objective of the project, be clear about what success looks like and understand what it is they need to do. They also need to be good at their regular jobs or have someone help them with their regular job because what they’re about to embark on is a long way from their regular work and often it takes additional effort and focus to get the new stuff that they’re not used to processed. The most significant thing the internal team are going to do in the execution of new project is learning; (Read more)

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Managing energy in Projects; 3 essential habits from experience

While time is a finite resource, energy is infinite, although it may not always feel that way. That is because it doesn't just happen by itself, you have to establish rituals to build energy. Individuals and businesses that understand this succeed and as a result both the individual and the business grows.   Managing energy in the build-up (or countdown) to live might be one of the most mentally and physically challenging parts of a project. Energy has, in this last week, been in short supply, it’s been a week that has challenged even the most match fit of us.   When times get challenging some of the most successful techniques I have used to keep energy positive, are to keep to the routines and habits that I rely on to keep my physical health in a good place, and to create the space that allows me to step back from the chaos of getting sucked into the task level detail to think. (Read more)

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Project Close | Overcoming the fear of finishing

Whilst on a practice hike preparing for a trip to the Kokoda track earlier this year; I overheard one of the teens on the hike, who had done that particular track before, relate that the last kilometre of our day would be the longest, there was a collective sigh of agreement. So too, it can be with the close of a project, it can feel like the longest part of the journey. There is plenty of good advice on how to face the fear of finishing and close your personal projects... but, what’s the best way to close out a project for a client, leaving it in a good state? Improving my own focus in this area has been the 'sub project' (read personal goal) of the last month or so. (Read more)

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Meeting meltdowns and 5 tips to avoid them

“Not all meetings are a waste of time, some of them get cancelled.” This is one of my dad’s favourites and definitely one that I can hear in the back of my head when I am in malfunctioning meeting. The numbers are not pretty: "In the US alone we “enjoy” 11 million formal business meetings each day and we waste $37 Billion in unnecessary meetings every year." The cost of meetings in the US is ridiculous and I am sure that Australia is not that far behind. See for yourself, have a go at this little tool – it’s one of the things that I have been known to wonder in a meeting – how much is this costing in peoples time? What else could these experts be doing if they were not in meetings? (Read more)

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Planning Projects | How to give it a T.I.C.K.

When you start a project typically you make a project plan. Problem with planning projects, and this is the problem with all plans really, at the time of planning you only know what you know right then. The future is unknown. So, we could say that to a certain extent project plans are ‘made up’. (Read more)

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