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Keep your ideas to yourself – for now

We’re all familiar with the idea of documents such as a change log or lessons log. Some people also keep a diary known as a daily log, but how many of us use that as a sort of ‘ideas log’?

Many good project and programme managers have a creative streak. They are constantly thinking of ways to manage their project or programme better. ‘Maybe we should run an event for some key stakeholders?’, ‘maybe I should move the assurance team to be closer to the developers?’

If you are like me, these ideas come flooding into your mind at the weekend when you are walking the dog or mowing the lawn. This builds into a tsunami of enthusiasm that hits your key team members on a Monday morning.

Some years ago, one of my colleagues just looked at me and said “In future, can you just write your ideas down and sit on them for a while, we’re still working on last week’s batch”.

A couple of weeks later I was running a workshop for the management team of a small but rapidly growing company that developed organic baby foods. The owner (an award winning entrepreneur) had invited me in to coach and mentor her management team because they needed better project management skills to implement her ideas.

This hard working and talented team dreaded Monday mornings. They would arrive at work to find their inbox full of bright ideas. The owner would spend the weekend in her kitchen dreaming up new recipes and emailing them across at 2am on a Sunday morning with suggestions (instructions?) to have the product “on Tesco’s shelves by Easter”.

I explained project management to the management team; I taught them techniques and processes and I fed back to the owner. Apparently the most valuable thing I’d recommended was for the owner to have an ideas log where ideas would sit for a week or two before being filtered through to the management team!

This may remind you of some of your key stakeholders and their attitude towards formal change control but don’t forget to look at yourself as well. Many of your ideas don’t naturally fall into formal documentation like change logs and risk registers. So on Monday morning, write them down in your daily log. Chances are, that when you revisit them on Wednesday you’ll think many of them weren’t such brilliant ideas after all.

Your team may love you for it!

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