Tag Archives: project planning

Visualizing Project Planning Success

Visualizing Project Planning Success for 2016

The first three of ten free downloads from the Change Planning Toolkit™ were focused on innovation and change:

  1. Five Keys to Successful Change
  2. Architecting the Organization for Change
  3. Building a Global Sensing Network

The goal of these three frameworks was to get people visualizing more holistically how to build a strong foundation for a successful continuous change capability for the organization and a strong, vibrant innovation ecosystem. The next free download will tackle one of many project managers’ least favorite project planning activities – the creation of a project charter.

The Visual Project Charter™

The truth is that for most of us project managers, whether we want to admit it or not, the process of creating a project charter is one that we often dread. We sit there in front of a Microsoft Word template like the one in figure 1 blinking at us on the screen and realize just how much missing or incomplete information we have when we begin typing into the one of the very first, and potentially most important, project artifacts for any project. We know we face the sending of a series of emails, follow up emails, follow up to the follow up emails, and maybe even some escalation emails and phone calls just to get the information we need to create the first draft of a project charter. And that’s before we even begin trying to get alignment, buy-in, and sign-off on the document.

Project Charter Template

Figure 1

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Because every project ultimately changes something, as part of the Change Planning Toolkit™ I have designed a Visual Project Charter™ (see figure 2) to help project managers make the project planning process and the creation of the project charter a more visual, more collaborative, and more enjoyable process, providing an opportunity to improve the chances of project success by creating upfront improvements in a AAA project experience:

  1. Alignment
  2. Accountability
  3. Action

The Visual Project Charter™ helps organizations:

  • Move beyond the Microsoft Word document
  • Make the creation of Project Charters more fun!
  • Kickoff projects in a more collaborative, more visual way
  • Structure dialogue to capture the project overview, project scope, project conditions and project approach

Visual Project Charter

Figure 2

Get your sticky notes and pens ready and gather the people with the knowledge and information necessary to accurately shape the project!

The Visual Project Charter™ is designed to be used in place of, or in advance of populating your normal Project Charter template in Microsoft Word. It MUST be used in a cross-functional project team meeting before project kickoff to initiate the conversations necessary to surface the assumptions, issues, risks, constraints, and definitions of success. As you know, identifying the potential land mines before you even begin a project will both increase the chances of success and decrease the chances of schedule or cost overruns.

The canvas helps you ask, visualize and collaborate on some of the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of this project?
  • What is the key information to include in the Project Overview?
  • What is the Project Scope?
  • What are the Project Conditions we must consider?
  • What Project Approach are we going to use?

The goal is to capture all of your typical project charter information:

  1. Purpose of the Project
  2. Project Overview
    • Executive Summary
    • Business Needs
    • Business Justification
  3. Project Scope
    • Stakeholders
    • Objectives, Goals and Success Criteria
    • Deliverables
    • Deliverables Out of Scope
    • Estimated Budget and Costs
    • Organizational Impacts
    • Departmental SOW
    • Estimated Duration
  4. Project Conditions
    • Assumptions
    • Issues
    • Risks
    • Constraints
  5. Project Approach
    • Structure
    • Project Team Roles and Responsibilities

This is a lot more FUN and SUCCESSFUL approach to building a project charter. Most project managers who see benefit in this approach will probably choose to use the Visual Project Charter™ as a tool to gather the inputs necessary to populate the traditional project charter template on ProjectManagement.com or one that you’ve created yourself.

But, the advantage of potentially of using the Visual Project Charter™ in place of a traditional project charter document is that you can make large format prints of your drafts and post them in the halls of the involved workgroups for additional comments before creating a final draft that can then be signed off on by the project sponsor and other key accountable parties for all the world to see and to help drive a AAA project experience by maintaining:

  1. Alignment
  2. Accountability
  3. Action

I’m making a free download of the Visual Project Charter™ available to the readers of this article and purchasers of my new book Charting Change (Feb 2016) as an 11”x17” format PDF. A larger format (poster size – 35″x56″) version will be made available to individual licensees and site licensees of the Change Planning Toolkit™ (coming soon) or can be purchased separately at a nominal fee here (UPDATE: You can now access the poster size version for free too):

Click here to access the poster size version (35″x56″) of the Visual Project Charter™

Remote Project Management

UPDATE (October 9, 2021): A few months ago I created a video example of how to use the Visual Project Charter™ that you’ll see below in part to show how you can not only print the Visual Project Charter™ as a 35″x56″ poster BUT you can also use it a background in online whiteboarding tools like Miro, Mural, LucidSpark, and Microsoft Whiteboard and then have people place their virtual sticky notes on top of it.

So, what do you think?

Is the Visual Project Charter™ a potentially useful additional tool for your project planning process?

Do you plan on trying it?

Or do you perhaps already use something similar?

Is there anything conspicuously absent that threatens its effectiveness as an additional project planning tool?

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Click to access this framework as a scalable 11″x17″ PDF download

Click here to access the poster size version (35″x56″) of the Visual Project Charter™

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Planning to Spread

We’ve all seen the viral videos that seemingly come out of nowhere to garner millions of views on YouTube, videos like this one where five people play one guitar singing Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”, which as of this date has garnered more than 163 million video views:

And if you add up all of the other postings of this same video, the total number of video views goes much, much higher.

Now, surely Gotye’s version of the song couldn’t have possibly garnered more views than this viral sensation that Walk Off the Earth’s cover created, could it?

Um, actually it did. To date Gotye’s official video has captured nearly 600 million video views, or nearly FIVE TIMES as many video views. So, it hasn’t turned out all bad for Gotye.

Now you might ask yourself, how could the huge success of the Walk Off the Earth viral campaign be trumped by traditional marketing if viral marketing is supposed to be the silver bullet?

Well, the truth is that whether you pursue traditional marketing and advertising or supposedly “viral” marketing activities, the goals are the same:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Desire
  4. Action

And it is within that first bullet point, that you find the viral component that any marketing activity or any evangelism activity (for innovation, for change, etc.) should always contain – spreadability.

Now, WordPress doesn’t seem to think that spreadability is a word, but let’s assume for a moment that it is and focus on the fact that most of the time, one of your goals in business (and your personal life) is spreadability. Ultimately, in many cases, success is determined by whether or not you can get your idea to spread.

This is true whether we are talking about an IT project, a Six Sigma continuous improvement effort, a change initiative, a Lean event, a marketing campaign, or a project commercializing an invention into a potential innovation.

So, can anyone guarantee that an idea or marketing campaign will spread?

The short answer is no.

Sorry, I wish I had better news for you, but the fact is that nobody can guarantee that your idea or your marketing campaign will go viral. Why?

You’re dealing with humans living in a complicated world. We’re not all built the same and the same person can have different reactions to the same stimulus (driven by mood and context among other things). This can result in a perfectly spreadable idea or message being stopped dead in its tracks, depriving you of all of the potential downstream sharing that you might have been hoping for or counting on.

Sorry, you can’t guarantee spreadability, despite what opportunistic marketing consultants claiming to know the magic formula might tell you.

Spreading ChangeBut, an idea can be built to spread.

And I’d like to share with you a simple framework, for free, that you can download and spread far and wide.

Click here to download the “Planning to Spread” starter worksheet as a PDF.

It’s based on the same priniciples as mind mapping and it will help you start either with a particular node in mind (someone you’d like to reach and influence) and work backwards, identifying both how to evolve your idea to best influence that particular node, and how you might be able to reach them (at the same time). Or you can work from the idea outwards. Focusing primarily on the WHO and the WHY as you move outward.

The key questions to consider as you are “Planning to Spread” your idea are the following:

  1. What is your idea or message? (Does it resonate with my target audience?)
  2. Who are you trying to reach?
  3. How will you reach them?
    • When will they be most receptive to the message or idea?
    • Where will they be most receptive to the message or idea?
  4. Why will they engage? (What value will they get?)
  5. Why will they share? (What value will they derive?)
  6. How will they share?

Working your way thoughtfully through these questions will increase the chances that your idea or message will spread, but they won’t guarantee it. Going through the process however will help you refine your idea or message, help you think through the mechanics of how you might encourage and increase engagement, and may even help you uncover flaws in your idea or message that you missed (and give you a chance to fix them).

Planning to Spread WorksheetHappy spreading!
(and please let me know in the comments below any things I might have missed)

So what am I trying to spread?

Well, in the run up to my second book (this time focusing on the best practices and next practices of organizational change), soon I will be releasing a new collaborative, visual change planning toolkit to help organizations work smarter by planning their change initiatives (and projects) in a less overwhelming, more human way that will help get everyone literally on the same page.

This is the idea that I will be spreading and there are many ways that you can benefit.

One way is by becoming a case study volunteer. I’m looking to select a handful of companies to teach how to use the toolkit for free and feature their experience in my next book on the best practices and next practices of organizational change. If you would like to get a jump on the competition by increasing your speed of change (and your ability to work smarter), register your interest here.

But there are several other ways you can benefit, and all of them can be found here (including upcoming chances for consultants to train on the methodology and boost their revenue and success as they work with their clients around the world to deliver positive change). I’ll be focusing on teaching and tools, not consulting.

What message or idea are you trying to spread?

Accelerate your change and transformation success

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