Some Guidelines for Teams and Projects

After over thirty years in technology, working at NASA, Compaq, Microsoft and many places since, here are some of the things I’ve learned about team work and projects.

  • The schedule isn’t your enemy. It helps you plan, allocate, and deliver. It can also help you when you encounter something unexpected. Learn the ins and outs of it, including where you can make adjustments if needed.
  • Picture the project close at the project start. Have a good idea of where you want to go before you start out. If you don’t know where you’re going you won’t know how to get there efficiently!
  • Don’t be the project bottleneck. If you’re holding up decisions, delegate. If you’re going to be late, tell people and delegate. Remember, you’re part of a team!
  • Don’t seek credit. You end up getting more done if you don’t care who gets the praise. Remember, it’s a team.
  • Ask for help. Don’t be too proud to ask for help from in or out of the team.
  • Have an opinion and be ready to change it. Most decisions are not made on facts alone, but feelings, opinions, and guesses. There’s nothing wrong with having opinions, but be flexible!
  • Don’t row the boat, steer its course. Rowing is a lot of work, but doesn’t let you set the directions very well. Let the team row. You do the steering and make sure the project is going in the right direction.
  • Cultivate the people who do things. Find those on the team who are always producing and creating. Give them more responsibility and tougher challenges. Ask for their help and be ready to accept it!
  • Busy people rarely follow up. It’s just the nature of work. Let others know that you will follow up and when you will do so. Make the team accountable to each other.

Do you have any additions? Do you have any observations you’d like to share? Please add them in the responses!