Implementation Lesson Learned #2: Frequent Check-Ins and Overcommunication

“Bad news never gets better with age.”

—Jeremy Patton

Any fool can manage a project when things are going perfectly. Where we make our money is when things—inevitably—start to go south.

There’s certainly something to be said for declining the opportunity to panic and telling everyone the sky is falling in. However, and I speak with a certain amount of painful experience here, if things are going south, get the word out.

Likewise, if things are going well, share the credit. Get the word out.

Overcommunication is multi-faceted in includes data, face-to-face interactions, project timelines, pre-negotiated success factors, etc.

So with this blog post, I thought I’d share some of the best practices I’ve seen and/or practiced over the years.

  • A good ending starts with a good beginning. Use the project charter, aka the pre-negotiated “what does success look like.” This takes away any argument about the desired outcome or commitment to achieve it.
  • Get yourself a copy of the classic The 4 Disciplines of Execution by McChesney et al. There’s a terrific discussion about leading indicators and keeping score. What’s so critical about objective leading indicators and scorekeeping is that it takes the discussion away from personalities and towards objective standards.
  • If you’re behind, if you’re losing, if you’re in trouble, if you’re losing sleep… here’s the hack… Speak Up.
  • Frequent and Planned Check-ins are your friend. Depending on the nature of the project, I’ve found two cadences are right, and one wrong:
    • Daily Management is best for high profile, high stakes, high expenditure projects. The best meetings last around 20 minutes.
    • Weekly Management is best for moderate profile projects with smaller teams. The best meetings are between 30 and 60 minutes.
    • Monthly Management, in my experience, has far too long a gap between meetings. Far too much time is spent catching up on who is supposed to do what.
  • Meeting agendas are your friend. Objective scorecards are your friend.

Further Reading

Pre-Negotiate What Success Looks Like

Amazon Link to The 4 Disciplines of Execution