I see this problem all the time, do you?

You set up a project team. You discuss the challenge to be overcome. Then, you discuss the tasks.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have a team that are comfortable defining all of the tasks.

If you’re unlucky… well, you’ll be like many teams that I come across.

Is it arrogance?

Why do people not feel like writing down all of the tasks? Poor preparation? A feeling that writing down everything is too play school for them?

I don’t have the answer, unfortunately…

But, what I do know is this. Failure to write down every task can lead to teams getting stuck.

What’s the missing step?

A lot of team’s plans look like this:

Magic rarely materializes when delivering a project!

The first couple of steps are clear, then… well it drifts off. Somehow, using magic, we’ll get to the final step and the project will be ok. Won’t it?

With a few questions a better plan can be pulled together.

In fact, no magic is required. Making sure that the team know what they don’t know is a good place to start. Working together, that can bridge the gap.

Some good questions to use

If we want all of the steps defined in our plan, here are two good questions you can ask:

  • If I worked backwards, what would the last step be? And the step before that?
  • If I completed the first step, what would that let me do (that would get me closer to our goal)?

The first question works backwards. The second, you’ve guessed it, works forwards.

Using either approach will help you to identify all of the steps. Using both, one after the other, allows you to optimize your plan. I prefer going backwards then forwards as I find it more efficient but I’m sure you’ll find what’s best for you.

Your project should have all the tasks defined – don’t leave this to chance!

I tell our customers, if in doubt, it is better to have too many tasks than too few. With too many you can change them, or mark them as complete. With too few, you are left stuck and guessing.

Free subscription to PDCA Complete

If you haven’t yet discovered how simple and powerful PDCA Complete is, then I urge you to claim your free subscription today.

We offer a free account for teams up to three users. You can claim your free account here.

Once you have started adding your projects, tasks and making progress you can upgrade your account when you’re ready.

In the meantime, make sure that you capture all the tasks required to achieve your objectives. It is worth taking a few extra minutes to achieve all of the results!

Giles Johnston
Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer that spends his working life helping businesses to become more organized, more efficient and get back in control.