As project managers and professionals we’ve experienced many successes as well as failures on the projects we’ve lead and participated on. When you work on or lead a high profile, successful project, it’s human nature to want to rest on our laurels sometimes. Finish a great project, win against all odds, drag a doomed solution through the trials to a successful deployment or perhaps even take over and ‘save the day’ on a failing project….all of these scenarios may make you want to sit back, take stock of what you’ve accomplished and coast for awhile.
What’s wrong with this scenario? Mainly, your next project or your other projects on your plate at the moment probably don’t involve the same customer and may not involve any of the same team members. They really don’t care about how things went on your last project – unless you have some good take-aways from it that apply to your current project. All they care about is how you’re doing on the current project. Are you performing properly for them? Are you doing everything you can on the current project to effectively plan, manage, communicate, innovate, and document so that this project will end successfully?
When we come off an energetic, highly visible, adrenaline pumping, satisfying…perhaps even thrilling…project, how do we regroup and focus on the next endeavor? Truly we are only as good as our current project. To ensure there’s no let down, think about following these guidelines…
Take a breather…a very short breather
I mentioned earlier about the tendency to want to coast after completing a huge project successfully. We can’t do that. But we can take a short break to regroup and refocus. You’re about to jump into another project, undoubtedly, and with a completely different team. So stop and smell the roses, refresh a bit, but be ready to step into the next project with a fresh team and a new customer and leave the last project behind. Stay focused, because you need this next project to start off on the right foot.
Put out a company-wide PR on the successful effort
I’ve seen this one work well with my teams and other colleagues’ teams on long, exhaustive, successful projects and it’s a great way to celebrate a success and recognize talent without losing momentum into the next project engagement. Go ahead, toot horns and mention yourself as well. Project managers often don’t get a lot of the recognition for successes so this may be the only time you have in the limelight. Pats on the back are nice when deserved, and something like this can help you take your successful mindset into the next customer’s project.
Document lessons learned on the successful project
Finally, be sure to document the things that went well on the project. You never want whatever you did to fix the last project, make the customer happy, plan successfully or pull everything through testing without a hitch to fall by the wayside so document what you did and how you did it so the success can be repeatable. Share it with your colleagues and follow it on future projects so you can increase your chances of having similar, favorable outcomes.
The key is to practice good project management. You can’t rest on your laurels because your current team and customer care about this project now, not your last project and how it went. Project success is often hard to come by, so when we experience it we need to learn from it and take everything we can from it and move forward into our next assignment. Learn from mistakes, learn from doing things right and take on each project like it’s the most important task you have.