Top 5 Project Management Lessons from Moving

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on April 08, 2009 in: Just Blogging, Project Management

Recently, my family moved out of our condo into a house. This isn’t the first move I’ve made, but it’s the first one in a while and I was struck by how much project management the entire effort required to pull off successfully. So I jotted down these 5 project management lessons that moving reminded me of:

1. The best laid plans will go awry. Project management is equal parts “keeping the project on track” and “getting the project back on track”. There are so many factors involved and you can have a well-detailed plan but something will send the whole thing off the rails. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have plan. Instead, it means that you should have a great plan and a plan B and a plan C and a flexible attitude and a bottle of wine. Things will go wrong. A project manager is there to minimize what will go wrong and to pick up the pieces and get most of it going right..

2. The number of stakeholders in a project increases the project’s complexity by an exponential factor. If it’s just you moving, that’s enough. But if you and a spouse are moving, it’s like moving 4 of you (2 x 2). And if you and a spouse and a child are moving, that’s like moving 27 of you (3 x 3 x 3). It’s like that in business. Every stakeholder in a project has an opinion or ten and they have motivation to be heard (because they want to keep their job or put their fingerprint on the project).

3. Get to the point of no return. We didn’t procrastinate; we had a plan and a timeline. But the move seemed to putter along at the idea stage for a while until something clicked. Suddenly, we were packing boxes and eating pizza and dreaming about where we’d put the couch in the living room. Not much happened before that but when we reached a critical mass, the whole thing came together quickly. In your project, get to the point of no return quickly and the project will move along.

4. Make it easy on everyone… and yourself. A friend told me of a time when he helped his aunt move. He arrived at her house early in the morning on the day of the move only to find that nothing was packed. We had a moving company pick up our boxes and I made sure that everything was packed and labeled properly before they arrived. And guess what happened: the move went smoothly and I found the utensils at the new house when I needed them.

5. Try to enjoy the process. It’s easy to think of a move or a project as something you have to endure in order to end up at a goal. But taking a few moments to relax and collect your thoughts can help put into perspective the fact that the journey can be as important and enjoyable as the goal… even in a business-related project management scenario

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