How to Manage Beyond the Solution -

How to Manage Beyond the Solution


By Guest Blogger Tony Oliver, Penny Wise Consulting Group

This blog post first appeared on the Penny Wise Consulting Group’s blog and was posted here with permission. The original post can be found here.

In my early teens, I amassed a sizable CD and cassette tape collection. Coupled with my state-of-the-art (for 1991, that is) IBM PS/2 and the wonders of shareware program CD Pro-File (thanks, The Software Labs!), I satisfied my overactive organizational desire by cataloging my collection.

The tedious process was not bothersome, as I filled out the information for every single recording while listening to music (something I still do when faced with a boring task). One limitation, however, caught my eye: The date field only accommodated two characters for the year. Luckily, the program had three “flex” fields that allowed multi-character input, so I used one to input the date.

I would love to take credit for spotting the Y2K bug, but that’s not the case. I was focused only on my problem. Having resolved it, I was happy to call it a day.

Years later, as I began working, I realized how success was not measured solely on fixing the visible problem, but also going beyond to see what else could be improved, or what other fields could benefit from a solution. So, how you as a Project Manager think big picture on your projects?

Keep a log “beyond” the project. This is especially valuable if you are a contractor, and thus constantly on the hunt for your next engagement. Once a contract is signed, the customer seeks their main deliverable to be provided, but often a deeper analysis of the proposed solution will reveal other things that may need fixes.

Transform a project into something else.  Take Christopher Columbus; he “failed” in his project since he didn’t get to India by sailing across the Atlantic. However, his endeavor turned out to provide something more valuable for the Spanish Crown: Dozens of colonies and their riches. Better yet for Columbus, his one trip brought three others—“contract extensions” if you will.

Market the new knowledge. Think of all the different project management methodologies: Agile, Scrum, Six Sigma, Prince, Prince2, etc. Their origin can be traced to finding a better way to do things, to fix problems that perhaps the prior methodology could not quite fix. Capturing that knowledge and applying it to something else can trigger a lucrative side business, or perhaps a new career.

What about you? How do you think beyond the problem in front of you to benefit your client or project?

About the Author: Tony Oliver is a project manager by trade, a marketing guru by profession, and a lifelong learner from birth. His best trait is an inquisitive mind, which drives his desire to understand not just the “what” but also the “how” and more importantly, the “why” and “why not?” Tony is experienced in supply, pricing, demand, and consumption analysis and holds an MBA in marketing from a top 20 school (UNC Chapel Hill) and an undergraduate English Literature degree from Georgetown University. With 15+ years of experience with Intel and Cisco, Tony is fully bilingual (English, Spanish) with a working knowledge of French, as well as a seasoned public speaker and instructor of Project Management and Presentation Skills courses.

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