Project Management

Sustaining a Positive Environment: Be Acute!

Al Taylor is an independent IT contractor in Ontario, Canada.

It’s a given that a positive environment leads to successful projects. Therefore, it seems useful to ask what we can do to create and sustain a positive project environment. One of the ways we can enjoy this is by focusing on the project tasks—the ones that sometimes get lost in the fog of the broader project dialogue.

Can we define a project as a set of tasks? If so, we can agree that when all of the tasks are done, the product is delivered and the project is done. We know that a sub-set of the tasks lined up end to end will define the critical path of the project.

Many years ago, I borrowed a phrase from a senior executive of a major financial services firm (with permission): “Less than acute.” The executive used it in the context of the firm’s focus on expenses; I will use the notion of acute in the context of our focus on tasks.

A less-than-acute focus on our tasks can lead to confusion and uncertainty—these are enemies of the project (well, two of them anyway…). These states can manifest themselves in several ways:

  • Multiple resources executing the same tasks
  • Wrong products delivered
  • Task sequencing issues
  • Misleading status reports

All of these events will make it difficult to sustain a positive project environment. The solution is to ensure that our attention to task definition, task assignment and task …

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"A day without sunshine is like, you know, night."

- Steve Martin