Chief Organizational Planner

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I’ve been pulled into at least 5 or 6 significant directions lately and been expected to deliver on a multitude of work that really should be divided up into 3 or 4 people.  But, we’re strapped for resources and the job still has to get done.

Sometimes I lose sight of the most practical ways to accomplish all that I need to.  Lately, I’ve been very haphazard and relied on what’s in my head, in email and other people prodding me in order to deliver stuff.  But that’s not fair to other people as well as the company…because I’m supposed to be just getting the job done.  ‘How’ and ‘why’ doesn’t always matter as much as the ‘when’ does.

What I’ve realized recently is that, even though I don’t like project management, a little project management goes a long way to ensure you, as an individual contributor, are moving the needle with all that’s on your plate.

Wikipedia defines project management as:

Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing, managing, leading, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals.

Compare that to product management:

Product management is an organizational lifecycle function within a company dealing with the planning, forecasting, or marketing of a product or products at all stages of the product lifecycle.

You can see the differentiation between what I do and what a project manager does.  However, key to any person’s job is also key to a project manager’s job.  That key is organizing, primarily, but also arguably, planning.

I have found that spending 10 minutes at the beginning of the week planning out what I need to accomplish helps ensure I’m focused on the right things for the week to make an impact on my work.

At the same time, with any product lifecycle, timelines exists for all milestones and it takes a certain amount of project management, particularly organization, to ensure timely and successful task completion.  This week I’ve spent a large amount of time remembering to stay organized and created at least 10-15 various spreadsheets and documents to help track and organize information towards a few key and rapidly approaching product launches.

I’m surprised at myself that it took me so long to remember to do something so basic…write down what needs to be done, by when and start crossing it off as I or others make progress.  These products have been in work for several months now and to a large extent, the whole team has been working off of a basic document outlining goals and features.  As I said, I’ve been relying on my memory, other people’s memories, scope / status meetings and  a whole bunch of notes spread across wikis, EverNote, Skype and email.  I hate to think what would have happened if I forgot something only to discover this week in the midst of all this organization that a key piece towards our goal was missing.  I got lucky…pure and simple.  Well, at least I hope I’ve been lucky, since the launches haven’t happened yet and so far nothing major has come up. *fingers crossed*

My point in all this rambling is to emphasize how serious one should take organization and planning.  It’s key to any professional (and personal I suppose) work effort.  In my opinion, everyone’s job requires a bit of project management, regardless of whether or not you like it.  I know for a fact I don’t, but if it contributes to my products’ success..well, a good track record is hard to argue with.

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