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Project management, productivity, change management, and more!

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The project went well, why bother talking about it?

English: Symbol "thumbs up", great

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Many waste great opportunities to gather very valuable information by taking projects that went well for granted. A typical saying is “The project went well, why bother talking about it?”, which is important to prevent, otherwise you may waste precious lessons you can apply elsewhere.

Projects that went well means that events/actions/etc. occurred which made it go well. So what exactly helped here? Identify all the positive elements of the project and make sure you get to the root of that positivity. By that, I mean, avoid being vague like “we had a great team working on this”. The root of this might be that the team has worked a lot together in the past and communicate greatly.

Once all this is gathered, figure out what can be applied to other projects, and make sure it’s actionnable.

For example, if a project went well because the client supplied everything on time, and you identify that the client was reminded weekly, with a simple list of what to deliver and when, then how about applying this technique with other clients?

Have a lessons learned meeting even for positive projects; they are just as important as any other lessons learned mettings where you can make sure to learn from the project.

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Why and how to give constructive feedback

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Source: anon

As per requested after my article on the importance of feedback, this one covers why you should always give constructive feedback, and some tips to help you do it.

In this context, we are talking about all feedback in general, whether it’s about someone’s personality, someone’s work, or anything else. It applies to any aspect of your life when you communicate with others.

Constructive feedback gets the word accross

Feedback generally is a cause for change, and our reflex towards change is to be either scared or reluctant of doing it which is why the approach you use when giving feedback as a strong impact on the receiver’s reaction.

By staying constructive, the receiver will listen more, and will avoid going on the defensive. Therefore, your message has a much better chance of being taken seriously, and you will not enter into a never-ending debate.

Few tips

  • 1. Stay positive: Avoid insults or anything that might make the receiver feel bad. For example, avoid any speech that sounds like “You do this wrong so….” or “You messed up, next time…”. All those words bring absolutely nothing to your message, so just don’t use them. You still have to get your message across so you can’t sugar-coat it too much, just be careful on the words you use.
  • 2. One-on-one: Depending of the nature of the feedback, consider giving it when you’re alone with receiver. Therefore, you will avoid any pressure the presence of others add, and the receiver will be more open. Some people are too proud and may deny everything while others listen so by talking alone with them, you’ll get them to listen.
  • 3. Everyone is different: Know the people you give feedback to. Some are open, some are less, so you may have to vary your approach between “Simple direct honesty” to “Very gentle”. If you haven’t had the chance to get to know the receiver, then be gentle, and adapt the conversation depending of how the receiver reacts. If you feel that the receiver goes into the defensive, quickly change your approach to disengage, or you may have to stop altogether to prevent frustration or waste of time.
  • 4. Aim at what the receiver wants: Although this tip is good to consider in every type of communication, it still applies very well here. The trick is to concentrate your words around what the receiver will gain rather than anyone else. For example, you could use the team approach like “If you do it that way, others will like your code more.”, but the receiver will be more receptive if you turn it around for him only like “You will have a much better time using your own code if you do it that way instead.”. Try thinking about what the receiver wants, and turn your feedback around that. It may be tricky at first, but it becomes easier as you try it.
  • 5. Be clear: Explain the feedback, whether it’s by giving a simple explanation, or using specific examples. Avoid saying “Don’t use too much blue.” and turn it around like “If you use more orange, you’ll add contrast and visibility.”. If the message is understood, chances are, it will be taken into account. However, if it’s too vague or completely unclear, the receiver won’t know how to change, or won’t be motivated to do it, or worst, may even feel irritated.
  • 6. Ask the receiver how he feels: Giving feedback must be a conversation and not a one-way street. Ask the receiver what he thinks of the feedback, and how he feels. It will get him to open up and discuss, and you may even come to an understanding better than what you hoped for. Some people will give their opinion without asking, but some have a hard time speaking, so give them a chance to talk, make it easy for them.

In conclusion

Giving feedback is important, and how you give it is just as important. Avoid blaming others for a lack of openness if you do not pay attention to how you give feedback. Adapt your approach to the person and context, and you will get your messages across.

Feel free to share more tips or discussions you had.

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Risks: not always negative

A common thinking about risks is that they are all negative and should be mitigated or avoided as much as possible. That common thinking is wrong!

A negative risk is a treat, but a risk can be positive and considered an opportunity so instead of mitigating or avoiding, you’ll want to exploit or enhance.

A good example is the risk of having too many visitors on your brand new website on the day of the launch. Having lots of visits is positive, so it’s not a treat unless it’s poorly planned and can crash the server, so you have to take it into consideration.

You may want to enhance the risk (plan a marketing blast to attract even more visitors) or exploit (use cloud hosting that can adapt resource accordingly, or have more resources ready for the server so you can welcome more visitors). You could simply accept and make sure the website simply displays a temporary message if too many people are visiting at once.

Risks are not all that bad, and even positive ones shouldn’t be ignored.