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Project Planning: Just Sit Down and Think About It!

Years ago I took a physics class in college. The class consisted of time in a standard lecture hall and time in a physics lab. In the lecture hall we learned the principles of physics, the formulas, and mathematical equations. In the physics lab, we applied the principles we learned in the lecture hall to the real world using string, boards, balls, blocks and weights.

Closeup of Newtons CradleThe physics labs were taught by student teachers. Hiro, our student teacher was a small, slender older gentleman with little glasses and a long grey ponytail. To complete your mental picture of Hiro, imagine Yoda with a ponytail. Hiro pretty much kept to himself and did not talk much, and we seldom heard him utter more than a simple “yes” or “no” in the first days of our classes.

One day we came to the physics lab ready to apply our physics knowledge to blocks and boards. Enthusiastically, we attacked the problem head on. We had not really thought through the assigned work, but we were sure we could figure it out on the fly. We had used strings and boards before. How hard could applying physics principles to this project be? After 15 minutes of failed moving, adjusting, and pulling of strings and boards we ran to Hiro for help. “Hiro, tell us how to make it work! “ We pleaded.

Hiro stood square in front of our group and said with great force “Just, sit down and think about it”. We again begged and pleaded with him, but his response was consistent. We went back to a desk and as a team sat down and planned how we would tackle the project. Our planning paid off and we were able to complete the project without Hiro’s help. In future labs with Hiro, we repeated the same episode. Our team would immediately jump into a project, get confused, and run to Hiro for help. The response from Hiro was always consistent and clear; “Just, sit down and think about it”.

I never forgot those words from Hiro. Today, when I sit with project teams and see them jump into a project without proper planning, I think back on his words. Just as we as physics students failed to properly plan how to apply physics principles to strings and boards in physics labs, project managers sometimes fail to plan how to apply project management principles to software solution delivery during client implementations.

Implementing Microsoft Dynamics software takes proper project planning to reduce risks and increase success. Sometimes project managers need to take some time and “Just, sit down and think about it” before project teams jump in and execute tasks.

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I remember Hiro well. I have applied his philosophy, "Just sit down and think about it", several times when things seem to be going in the wrong direction. I have also applied another saying from Professor Rodiek. You don't have to invent something new. Take a system that works, modify it to fit what you are are doing and make it work for you. These are two invaluable lessons that were learned during our education. Thanks for reminding me Alan. Posted @ Saturday, July 09, 2011 7:42 AM by Gary Blanford

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