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Command and Control


The other day during a regular facetime conversation with my parents, my Dad took some time to tell me about his most recent visit to the Doctor’s office. During this particular visit he had the opportunity to be seen by the Nurse Practitioner, a woman who had served in the military as a nurse and was now working at this clinic in Canada.

Dad went on to describe how the nurse worked with him throughout the appointment. She asked very deliberate questions that required short responses. Moved through the testing procedures methodically, not rushed, but with precision. Her workflow was smooth, and actions deliberate. It was because of these methods the conversation came up about her past military nursing experience, where you don’t have the luxury of time. Triage needs to be immediate and swift, conducted with confidence and purpose.

Immediately I started to think about all the project recovery efforts I have been involved with. Most often, the team might be accustomed to small issues here and there but have never been part of a full-blown recovery effort. They need immediate on-the-job training on how to be part of a rescue & recovery project team. In our program Rescue My Project™, we spend time discussing the importance of “slowing down to go fast”. Swift triage conducted with confidence and purpose; the same experience given to my father. Asking direct questions that require short answers with no room for error or interpretation. Deliberate actions to methodically troubleshoot, communicate, report, and ultimately gain command and control.

No one wants to be part of a troubled project, but that does not mean you run and hide; just the opposite. Being a team member on a troubled project is a gift. It’s an opportunity to shine and show your organization and, most importantly your client, that you are there because of what you know, what you can do, and how you can contribute to a successful recovery. As the project manager of a troubled project, you too have the opportunity to shine but understand some of that “shine” is a reflection from the microscope lens the client and your organization have just put you under. All eyes will be on you. Your team will be looking for you to lead by example. Your client will be looking for you to fix the immediate issues. Your organization will be looking for you to protect the account and client relationship. What do you do? Three simple yet highly effective techniques we often overlook.

1. Under promise and over deliver

a. Be sure to set firm targets with specific dates and times on deliverables and/or actions.

b. Set best effort targets; don’t be afraid to let everyone know what you are trying to accomplish in a best effort capacity.

c. Ensure your team has voiced their alignment before any and all promises are made, this is a group effort.

2. Ensure responsive, regular, relevant communications

a. Set regular touch point meetings, more frequent at first and then dial them back as everyone feels comfortable.

b. Respond close to immediate – even if it’s just an acknowledgement that the message was received, and you will be actioning it. There is nothing worse than wondering if your message was even received.

c. Keep your language in all communications factual and relevant. There will be a lot of activity happening and time is of the essence, so be brief and to the point.

3. Work with deliberate actions

a. In all emails, conference calls, and face to face interactions make sure you are conveying confidence and proceeding with purpose.

b. Direct and assign tasks to the most appropriate people who can get the job done in the most efficient manner. While others may be able to accomplish the task, during a recovery effort you need assistance from those who can get the job done expediently.

c. Ask for help. This is not the time to be hiding behind ego, if you need help, ask.

Command & Control is about efficiency while protecting quality. We drive to the desired outcome as quick as possible with a high degree of communications and checks & balances in place to protect the overall outcome. My Father had a quality experience with his Nurse. Nothing was sacrificed as she moved through her triage with purpose. He thought the whole experience was excellent and ultimately, he was a happy client.

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