I was sitting in my boss’ office as we planned a big software project. I remember feeling overwhelmed- I was relatively new to the IT department and we were just coming out of a difficult EHR implementation. My boss leaned forward in her chair and said, “Here’s the important thing about managing a project. Start at the End. Everything else flows from that.”
Starting a project with the end result in mind may be an obvious strategy to many of you reading this article, but at the time it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was so obvious and made so much sense, yet it had never occurred to me. Even if you’ve read Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, this is one of those things that it helps to be reminded of.
What does it mean to start at the end?
- Determine what your high-level goals are.
- Once you know what your high-level goals are, think about what steps are required to achieve them. Recall that old saying: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Big, scary projects can be overwhelming, but breaking them down into smaller “bites” make them more manageable.
- Come back to your goals when you feel bogged down by the daily minutia of a project and evaluate your progress – are you still on task or have you moved away from the desired end result?
Years later, I still heed this advice, and it has saved my bacon more than once.
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