How To Escape Project Management Overwhelm

When it comes to effective project management, ‘thrashing’ is the new black.

Thrashing has radically empowered our team to transform creative idea flows into finished products with much greater efficiency. You want this. Trust me.

For Your Projects To Ship On Time, On Budget, Without Surprises You Need To Thrash Like A Pro

So, what exactly is ‘thrashing’ and how will it change your business, your life and your Great Work?

It’s a must-know project management technique we learned from Giovanni – which he borrowed from the software development industry.

You invest an hour, afternoon, day or week on a new project idea (depending on its size) and thrash it out completely.

He recently shared a Seth Godin talk with me about calming the lizard brain, and why people don’t Ship — it’s because they’re constantly adding stuff on at the end of their projects.

So I’m learning how to secure the perimeter on this one.

You get your projects thrashed out ahead of time: come up with your must-haves, nice-to-haves, ship dates, and a little bit of recoil time at the end.

Then after you’ve shipped and taken the time to high-five with the team and learn from the experience, you have a breather where you incubate the next project you want to ship. This is the time to relax deep into your parasympathetic nervous system (where the best ideas come from). Go on vacation, get massages, meditate, don’t do a lot, just let the ideas come… then pick the next project, prioritize it, spend time thrashing it all out, and then BOOM go into implementation mode and just plow until you ship, and that’s it.

So that’s what we’re doing now.

Use The Thrashing Technique To Get Your Projects Done Right The First Time Around

We have people that capture Ali’s creative downloads, and translate them into templates and punchlists designed to make sure they’re getting all the right details THE FIRST TIME so Ali doesn’t have to repeat herself. (“And then what happens? What tags need to be placed on them in Infusionsoft? What’s the title of the next email? What’s the call to action at the end of that email? What page does it drive to? …”)

We ask ALL these questions up front, think a project through completely in one sitting (thrashing), and then send the finished project plan to the implementation team. At that point, they can just sit down, put their nose to the grindstone and crank — ’cause that’s what technicians love to do (according to Michael Gerber). They love to produce and get the work DONE.

It’s not fair to technicians to ask them to constantly be switching gears into project manager mode, trying to figure out emails, trying to figure out what the deadlines are — they need to be able to sit down, have everything prioritized and systematized in advance and just crank and get it done, boom, and move on to the next thing.

The upshot of all this is that we don’t need position descriptions with all these levels of detail and operating manuals in the way that E-Myth describes. That’s old-paradigm, McDonaldized, Henry Ford assembly-line management.

For the creative team, where things are not rote, we need a new paradigm of project management. Once we’ve chosen our next campaign or creative project, we thrash it out, everybody understands their role on the team, and then we just go to work and everybody does what they’ve got to do, and more than they’ve got to do, because they’re so passionate about it and they just want to be successful. They love being trusted and empowered, and that’s what the new paradigm way affords us. All of us!

It’s a radically different way of going about it than the mechanistic way that Michael Gerber describes. I feel totally relaxed around it.

How does this land for you? Do you see where you can apply this in your business? What don’t you get? Let me know by sharing your comments, insights and challenges below!

Craig Filek