Projects’ little wonders

I came across the article by Elle Kaplan:

“Why Steve Jobs Asked Himself This One Question Every Morning. And you should too.”

I am not sure about the ‘should’ part, as everyone decides for him/herself.

Steve Jobs was not a project manager. Or maybe he was, in his own peculiar sense. He knew about getting things done and, most importantly, why things need to be done.

One of my favourite quotes by Jobs is on what matters most:

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful — that’s what matters to me.”

Projects offer many instances to do something wonderful, as idealistic this may sound. Building a school or a bridge or a network is wonderful. Building confidence – irrespective of the scale – is also wonderful. Having trainees apply the skills they acquired in a training is also wonderful.

Couple of weeks ago a colleague was watching a Training of Trainers and sending me updates on how it goes. I messaged him:

– I envy you.

– Why?

– You are witnessing the change.

– I am not sure about the change. It’s a long way for this organisation to transform…

– I mean the change in these people abilities to deliver training, in the way they see now their task, in the sparkles in their eyes…

Milestones are important, but so are what we call ‘non-critical activities”. It made me remember a parallel with parenting. Remember ‘oh, she can hold the pen!” emotions before the toddler’s writing skills manifest themselves on the wall?

Learning to appreciate the little wonderful things we do in projects keeps the team morale up, I noticed. Unappreciated, they might become critical for the team’s emotional landscape and the project as a whole. For that you might need to declutter the project and leave room for what’s meaningful. 

“What was the latest little wonderful thing produced by our team?” might be a good question at the end of a week a project manager might want to ask the team.


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