We’ve invested lots of time in the last few months cataloguing all the academic projects that we’re working on or could be working on if we had the time or money. The list of current projects is posted now on the TIP Community blog site, and we maintain a much longer list “awaiting evaluation”. (We define project as something that will take more than 10 hours, requires more than one person, and produces a “nonroutine” result.) The goal of our project management methodology is to keep the number of stealth projects to a minimum and to wring as much individual and collective learning out of the process as we can.

Moving to a more explicit project orientation has generated a few growing pains as we all try to form new habits. I’m sure we’ll learn more complex methods as we go along, but, for now, I still think one of the best guides is at Lifehack with 16 Steps to Project Management. The specific steps may differ from project to project, but there’s an underlying theme that is pretty clear. See if you can figure out what it is.

1. Determine the objective and specific desired outcome. Write it down.

4. Begin “brainstorming” and create scenarios on how to achieve the desired outcome (this may have be broken down into sub-tasks). Make a date when all this creative thinking will be finished and a written draft can be printed and shared.

6. Determine and identify the tools (capital, equipment, machinery), the people (administration, sales, suppliers, customers), and the time required to complete the objectives. Write this down.

12. The leader must follow-up on all dates and compromises. Make this information public to all others involved in the project. Communicate all deliveries of sub-tasks, or lack of delivery, with the group.

The consequences of poor communication have been well documented.