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Implementing a lean project

All businesses are under pressure at the moment. We’re trying to do more with less people and as a result have less time to focus on the things we know we should be doing, the important long-term activities rather than the day to day firefighting. Here we will discuss three elements to help us get more things done and achieve our long-term goals.

1. Setting a “True North”

There is much discussion these days in the business literature about setting a “true north”. Simply put this means having goals and values that clearly define how your business would like to see itself in the future. Having a compelling big picture statement allows the smaller projects to be aligned with the company progress. It helps with deciding how important each task is and how much time we should allow for it during our weekly planning.

2. Projects aligned to our “True North”

Each person in an organisation needs to understand how their daily tasks align to the true north. While this is often simple and direct for the shop floor people, it is often more complicated for those who support those activities. Each support person needs to understand how their projects align to the true north and assisting the shop floor to achieve their goals. Projects need people with assigned responsibilities to complete them and clear timeframes. A clear project scope also needs to be defined. These are important to ensuring the completion of these projects. Weekly reviews are also required to ensure projects are on track.

3. Break the project into tasks

Once you have been assigned a project and been given clear responsibilities and timeframe, you need to break that into tasks needed to accomplish the project. At the beginning of the project some of the tasks maybe unclear. The challenge is to know who to talk to and where to get information from to make the way forward clearer. Each task needs to have clearly actionable steps and again, responsibility and the time frame to accomplish them.

Then the challenge is to allow sufficient time to complete these tasks. If you find yourself constantly scheduling these tasks and then not completing them you need to re-evaluate the project. You may need to ask yourself how important is this project? Do I have everything I need to complete the tasks? Do I need someone who can help make this project easier?

At this point, implementing lean project simply comes down to good time management once you have mastered the tools. And good time management skills can be learnt whatever stayed you are in your career.