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Over the Christmas holiday, several of us (despite being on “vacation”) came into work to pull together a project plan from several disparate sources. It was quickly apparent the three of us, each fairly detail oriented in our own ways, could take all week to get this done.

Wanting to get back home as quickly as possible, I went over to the easel pad in the room and wrote in large letters: BDTP

I explained to the other two guys that the acronym stood for a variation on a statement made by an A.T. Kearny consultant: Better Done Than Perfect.

The phrase is a great reminder at appropriate times that my standards for an end product may be beyond what is called for in the normal course of business. It’s a slightly different twist on the 80-20 rule that helps me stay focused on maximizing my contribution in relevant ways across as many areas as possible (vs. cratering myself with outstanding work in a very narrow area).

Think about your own efforts. If you tend toward perfectionism, consider whether a BDTP attitude might free you to have the greatest overall business impact.

For us, it meant finishing in two days vs. spending the whole week and having our deliverable spill into the new year.

And with that, while this week’s posts on convergent thinking may not have been perfect, they are certainly done. Have a great weekend!

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Prioritization and narrowing possibilities have been touched on at various points since starting Brainzooming.

Here are links to some helpful approaches on prioritization and decision making. The “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not” happens to be one of the most viewed posts since the blog started!

I’d love to hear what approaches you use to prioritize. Please share them in the comments section!

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Here’s a variation on the 4 p.m. List approach with a slightly dishonest implementation method.

I was leading an all-day group session on a contentious topic. We’d spent much time in divergent thinking mode with interesting discussions exploring many points of view. Still, we hadn’t clearly advanced toward a recommendation even though we had to make demonstrable progress by the end of the day.

I broke away during lunch and handed Dawn, the front desk receptionist, my cell phone number, asking her to call it at 1:15 p.m. and not worry about what would be said.

When the phone soon vibrated, I made a point of heading to the back of the room and starting a loud, faux conversation with the project’s sponsor expressing my displeasure with him scheduling time with our CEO at 3:30 p.m. to review our recommendation. Given the timing, we’d have to wrap-up by 3:15 p.m. to get him ready. By the end of the call, I had everybody’s attention (and had Dawn wondering what was going on).

Playing back the other end of the conversation for the group, our challenge was clear – get to agreement within the next couple of hours so we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves by not having our project sponsor ready for the CEO. All of a sudden, it became easier to find points of agreement, determine how we’d solve uncertain areas, and structure what a final report-out included.

As 3:15 approached and the sponsor didn’t show up, group members noticed something wrong. I admitted the meeting was a ruse designed solely to get the group moving. While they were frustrated, they quickly realized the satisfaction of finishing the assignment outweighed two hours of pressure.

If you want to borrow this, know that you can only use it once with the same people, so pull it out when you don’t have other better options to force closure. While enough time has passed to probably try it again, sharing it here means I won’t be able to use it for another year!

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Working to identify criteria describing attractive target customers, our small group had spent several weeks considering, selecting, and tracking down what we thought were the most relevant variables. There was a sense we could spend weeks more refining and tweaking things to get to our list of top prospects. Problem was we didn’t have time to do that.

At that point, the group’s leader made an intriguing suggestion. Our meeting was set to end at 4 o’clock. His direction to the group was to assume we had to report our list of 15 accounts by the end of the meeting. If that were the case he asked us, did we have confidence in our ability to come up with a defensible recommendation. Our answer was a resounding “Yes,” and we generated our list based on the work we’d done to that point.

With our proposed short list, we had an artifact for our effort. In additional analysis we did, we quickly matched up new possibilities against what became known as the “4 p.m. List” to see if they provided significant improvement. In all, the list paved the way for us to wrap up our recommendation in a timely fashion.

We learned from this, and with one of my strategic thinking partners, all we have to say is, “Let’s do a 4 p.m. list,” to know it’s time to force a recommendation assuming we know most of what we’re ever going to know at that point.

So if you’re stuck on a project, turn the clock to 3:50 p.m., and wrap it up!

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While much of Brainzooming is focused on divergent thinking (i.e. expanding the range of possibilities considered), it’s important to also have strong convergent thinking skills for times when you have to narrow possibilities, make decisions, and implement a recommendation.

Beyond the benefits of honing your skills at both types of thinking, it’s important to know when each approach is most appropriate. There are definitely more instances now where I’m willing to shift toward convergent thinking, even though I might have previously ardently fought for exploring more possibilities.

Here are five situations where it may make sense to go against an inclination to push for more possibilities and instead settle for an existing alternative:

  • It’s an issue that “doesn’t matter” based on a lack of either significance or permanence.
  • Multiple unsuccessful cases have been made for alternatives, and you’re at risk of deteriorating strategic relationships through continued persistence.
  • Resource constraints (time, people, investment, etc.) clearly preclude exploration of better alternatives.
  • Someone is resolute in a choice and clearly beyond “being helped” by considering what you view as a more appropriate approach.
  • The best current alternative is good enough relative to expectations.

All week, we’ll cover topics related to convergent thinking, and how it can be used appropriately within a strategic thinking orientation.

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The Brainzooming blog wasn’t originally focused on project management techniques. Successfully going from strategy to implementation, however, is critical to business success.

Creating a strong, innovative plan is only part of the strategy equation. Implementing innovation in organizations reluctant to embrace the changes needed to survive and grow requires what we’ve come to call “strategic project management.” These skills go well beyond a project manager checking off items on a to-do list.

Here are twenty-one articles organizing project management techniques we’ve been sharing with clients to help create needed changes in their organizations.

Project Management Techniques for Starting Strongly

Project Management Techniques – 6 Project Manager Mistakes to Not Repeat

Getting a project started right is lot easier when you’re not making early mistakes. These are six mistakes I’ve made on project management techniques so you don’t have to make them.

Implementation Problems? 7 Signs You’re Understarting, Not Overthinking

Strong project management technique requires both thinking and starting. One won’t work without the other.

Twenty-One Project Management Implications of Wanting Things FAST

When the pressure is on for completing a project fast, there are related implications an organization and a project manager have to contend with successfully.

Project Team Interactions

Project Management – Dinner Table Analogy for Project Team Members

There are right and wrong ways for project team member communication to take place. There are also right and wrong times for how you communicate within your project team.

March Madness and What Outstanding Point Guards Bring to Business Teams

A strong project manager is the equivalent of a great basketball point guard on a project. An outstanding project manager is selfless, a leader, and has multi-dimensional talents to contribute to the project team.

All I Want for Christmas Is You (To Get the Stuff Done that I’m Waiting For)

There are many ways to prioritize what you do next. When you’re in the midst of a project, consider prioritizing based on what other project team members are depending on you to finish.

Change Management

Built for Discomfort – An Alternative Prioritization Strategy for Innovation

If your organization tends to select strategies and prioritize projects that are comfortable, here’s a way to more overtly push for change.

Creating Change and Change Management – 4 Strategy Options

The best approach to create change will differ based on expectations about the status quo and the demand for dramatically different results.

8 Change Management Lessons from Major Changes in the Mass Translation

Wide-scale change in a change-resistant organization provides a unique set of project management challenges and potential remedies to achieve the maximum beneficial impact.

Major Change Management – Managing Ongoing Performance Gaps

Big changes are rarely “one and done” efforts. Prepare ahead of time for the ongoing reinforcement and change management techniques a project manager and project team will need to implement.

Project Management Technique Challenges

No Implementation Success? 13 Reasons Things Getting Done Is a Problem

If your organization has a habit of failing to successfully implement new projects, here are thirteen problems to watch for and fix.

Checklists – Helping Visualize the Uncertain When Plans Fall Through

If a project isn’t going as planned, step back and make sure you have a checklist to guide your way back to normalcy and stronger performance in a hurry.

Dealing with Difficult People – 16 Articles on Help and Support for Prickly People

If you handle project management on enough projects, you’re going to wind up working with challenging people. If you can’t avoid them, at least be ready to successfully lead them (and the rest of the project team) to success.

Project Management – 7 Steps to Winning a Fuel Mileage Race Project

NASCAR teams are used to stretching one of their main resources (fuel) with creative, winning strategies. Smart project teams can learn and apply some of the principles NASCAR teams use for success with less.

Improving Decision Making

Making a Decision – 7 Situations Begging for Quick Decisions

It’s easy for certain personality types and organizations to take too long on decision making. In these seven situations, there’s no need to extend decision making time unnecessarily.

Making Decision Making Easier – She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

One factor that can slow decision making speed is too many available choices. Here is a low-tech, very direct way to narrow your decision options and move directly toward decision making.

Level 5 Decisions – Decision Making without Your Influence

One way to speed project-related decision making is when the senior person on the project delegates appropriate levels of decision making to team members and makes the delegation clear. Here’s a solid approach to make this happen.

Project Management Techniques for Finishing Successfully

Project Management – 15 Techniques When Time Is Running Down

When time is running down on a project, project management rules don’t necessarily change, but how you apply them can. These techniques can close out a project more successfully when timing is running down.

Convergent Thinking Week – A BDTP Perspective

When time is running down on a project you have approached with higher than expected standards, consider relaxing those standards. Getting done can definitely be more important than being perfect.

Project Management Tips – 8 Signs a Creative Project Is Done

While we often consider a project done when all the steps are completed or the deadline is reached, that’s not always the case with a creative project. A creative project could be done before all the steps are completed or the deadline is reached.

Strategies for Finishing a Project

Closing out a project the right way can set the stage for future success. A strong project closeout won’t simply happen by accident though. The closeout phase needs to be project managed, too.  – Mike Brown

5 Ways to Start Implementing Faster and Better!

In the new Brainzooming strategy eBook 321 GO!, we share common situations standing in the way of successfully implementing your most important strategies. You will learn effective, proven ways to move your implementation plan forward with greater speed and success. You’ll learn ways to help your team:

  • Move forward even amid uncertainty
  • Take on leadership and responsibility for decisions
  • Efficiently move from information gathering to action
  • Focusing on important activities leading to results

Today is the day to download your copy of 321 GO!

Download Your FREE eBook! 321 GO! 5 Ways to Implement Faster and Better!



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I’m presenting an updated version of our “Busting Creativity Barriers – An Inspiring Dose of Brainzooming” today, right in the heart of World Creativity and Innovation Week. If you’d like to bust your creative thinking barriers, here are twenty-two source links for the three major creative thinking skills themes in the presentation. Enjoy busting your creative barriers!

Creativity Thinking Skills for You and Your Team

On-the-Road---ET-and-Friend

Creative Structures and Creative Thinking Questions

Creative-Thinking-Question

Busting Creativity Barriers

One-Creative-Step

 

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