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Snafus, Setbacks & Stumbling Blocks: 5 Tips to Get a Project Off the Ground
We’ve all been there: you’re working to get a project off the ground, but unfortunately… NOTHING. HAS. PROGRESSED.
Perhaps the direction was unclear. . . or a key stakeholder changed their mind without you knowing it. . . or maybe you just don’t know what steps to take next. This article provides tips for what you can do when you’re trying to get a project off the ground and moving forward, but have little to go on. Before pulling your hair out, consider the following tactics to get things back on track.
Hit the reset button. Get everyone back around the table and discuss where things started, what derailed and where things are now. Consider inviting an objective facilitator and a strong project planner to the meeting – to put some pressure on and help determine immediate next steps. Just be willing to have the hard conversations. Talk candidly with key stakeholders about where the setbacks are and determine TOGETHER how to get back on the right track.
Stumbling blocks can have massive impacts on a project’s budget and timeline, as well as your team members’ sanity – so everyone needs to recommit to the project goals and outcomes so things can be a little more clear in case they go awry again in the future.
Already know where the issues lie? Never underestimate the power of a good brainstorm. Offer to get in a room together and think through things with the full team. Make it a priority to go back to the drawing board and address issues head-on. Did an idea fizzle out? Did a concept not come to fruition?
Sometimes a project has stalled simply because a key stakeholder doesn’t know how to move it forward in the right way. A collaborative session to talk about the “could be’s” and possibilities is always helpful. There’s so much power in an empty whiteboard, a room full of people and no judgment – while throwing ideas up on the board to make a breakthrough.
Ask questions like . . . “What’s holding us back? What’s possible? What can we do? What can we not do? What have we done with similar projects?”
When things hit a natural pause, it makes sense to delve back into the original idea, revisit your notes and determine how to troubleshoot as a group to reach a new solution. Sometimes you just need the next thought to be able to finish the full vision.
Related: Simple Lessons for Complex Projects
Did a key stakeholder go AWOL? Don’t be afraid to remind them that you haven’t heard from them, and kindly outline clear consequences if they don’t get back to you in a timely manner.
Simply put: don’t be afraid to address issues directly. Say something like: “Hey there, we haven’t heard from you on X. If we don’t hear back by X,Y,Z date, we’ll likely have to push pause on the project.”
You can also respectfully remind teammates if you’re waiting on a deliverable or resources from them. Be clear in what you’re trying to accomplish, what you need from them and by when. Re-establish the parameters of the project and adjust the deadline if need be. Remember, it never hurts to give a nudge.
Don’t be afraid to call out something that isn’t working. If you’ve already come to terms with the fact that an idea isn’t panning out, or there’s not enough time before the due date to do X, then offer some solutions to move things along.
Share with your team that, “We can do A, B, or C or a combination thereof. We want to ensure we reach our goals.”
Let everyone know you’re open to suggestions and that you’d gladly meet or hop on a call to keep the conversation going. Sometimes the middle of a project can get messy, so having ideas on the sidelines can’t hurt.
Make sure you’re clear on roles and responsibilities at the get-go, and be sure to empower key leaders (even if they don’t have the title) to drive the ship. People want to be led, but they have to know who is in charge and how to be a good follower. If there’s ever a time when someone isn’t pulling their weight, revisit your notes from when roles/responsibilities were established and remind them what is needed to keep up their end of the bargain.
Another thing to consider is whether the trouble actually lies with the decision-makers. If there isn’t alignment there, offer to help facilitate that conversation and try to find some middle ground that allows everyone to move forward.
Looking for more ways to win in the marketing world? Consider reading The Big Lil’ Book of CX. More about our downloadable ebook can be found here: https://www.simantel.com/the-big-lil-book-of-cx/.