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Reinventing the Wheel

How many times have you struggled through a project ... whether at work or at home ... learned some lessons the hard way, and then moved on to the next "project'?

It never ceases to amaze me how often we do that in business and at home, we end up making the same mistakes, and learning the same lessons over again.

So ... whenever I am faced with a new "project" the first thing I like to do is think about how we can capture the "lessons learned", and develop a standard "framework" that can be used for similar projects going forward.

The first and probably most critical step is to find "experience" elsewhere ... who has done this before and what lessons have they learned? Better still do they have a framework that we can use? The elements of this are very familiar to anyone in the project management world ... but as I have mentioned previously even those people don't necessarily learn and capture their lessons in a structured manner. Witness my experience with our new condo that I wrote about recently.

I firmly believe that technology could be a great aid for this type of approach ... but it is not absolutely necessary. What IS necessary is:

1. a standard set of Tasks
2. the actions required to complete each Task.
3. a timeline that shows what needs to be done before other tasks and what can be done concurrently. (critical path)
4. the resources (how many and what skill sets) to complete each task.
5. the types of barriers encountered and how they were overcome (lessons learned or frequently asked questions)
6. A set of contacts who could be useful as advisers through the project
7. A set of resources that would be useful ... eg where to find "stuff"
8. A description of the best approach (subjective) to ensure the project gets off on the right foot.

If this is captured electronically then it is easier to modify, update, share etc. If project management software is used it allows for the diagramming and modification of critical paths quickly ... however some knowledge of the software and project management is required.

This approach can be applied to any situation that might be replicated. Eg. building something physical, writing a report, planning a trip, developing a business plan, a home renovation project, learning a new language ... just about anything. Each can have its own methodology so that you get it right every time!

I think your goal in starting any new venture should be to NOT reinvent the wheel. No matter how clever you are you can always learn from those who have been there before you. Worst case you learn what not to do ... best case you inherit best practices that will save you time energy and grief!