Question: I’m so frustrated! On almost every project, no matter how carefully we prepare, there inevitably arises an issue that we didn’t think about in the beginning. Despite all our planning meetings, people were either afraid to speak up or were not engaged enough to bother. How can I improve my chances of covering all the crucial questions from the beginning?
A. Look at the types of communication preferred by the people on your team and the managers involved. Have a pre-planned checklist to cover the types of things that should be brought out in the conversations for each category of person. If all the germane topics aren’t raised by the group, find a way to make sure they become part of the dialogue in the meeting.
B. It is a fallacy to think that all of the potential issues with any project can be addressed from the beginning. Continue as you have in the past and don’t be so hard on yourself if you overlook a potential risk or hidden trap. That’s why we have project managers—to clean up the surrounding mess when activities don’t go as anticipated.
C. Have you considered a contact consultant? These people sit in on all of your important meetings that are larger than three people, and they slip you notes when you are overlooking the body language of the people assembled. Then you can ask people by name why they appear uncomfortable or disinterested during your time to communicate as a group.
D. Purchase project management software that lists all of the possible questions that can be asked about any undertaking with a traditional or agile structure. By faithfully filling in all of the cells for the type of project you will do, the industry you work in and the methodology you have chosen to follow, you will be assured of having all of the necessary information you need.
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