Eliminating Vanishing Points

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The vanishing point is the distance where the sky meets the sea.  It is also the point where vertical planes appear to merge.  To me, a vanishing point does not represent disappearance, rather, it represents infinity.  I know that things keep going and if I can’t see the end it makes me think it goes on forever.

This can be a problem with a project.  If you don’t see the end it most definitely can go on forever.  Here are some tried and true tips on how to make sure you can see the end of your projects.

Define the Ending

If you can describe the ending to a point where you can envision it then you will know what it looks like when you reach it.  Many projects fail because the ending is ambiguous.

Develop Your “Will-dos”

In your scope, spell out what you will accomplish with this project.  If you have itemized deliverables and you can check them off you will know you are done with the project when there is nothing else to check.

Develop Your “Won’t-dos”

Just as importantly (and more importantly in many cases) you need a list of things you won’t do as part of your project.  You will typically get pushback on this, but it is worth it.  Now you can’t be led astray and steered away from your real objectives.

Set a Finish Date

If we don’t give ourselves deadlines we give ourselves excuses.  Most people procrastinate (I’m just as guilty as the next guy) when we don’t have a deadline.  Finish dates are key to providing that needed pressure to get the job done.

Get Sign-offs

If you think you are done and you have hit your objectives, get the key stakeholders to put in writing that they agree with you.  It is your contract with them that the project is done and that the end is nigh.

These are just some quick pointers that have worked for countless project managers.  Keep in mind that these tips also work with Leadership and setting expectations and goals for teams.  Look over them again and you will see how this is similar to goal-setting and Performance Improvement Plans.

What are some other ways to define the end?

How could these pointers have helped with your past projects?

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