Approach Projects Pragmatically Several years ago when the club president left our town for a new job, I suddenly found myself as the new club president. Coming up was Prairie Days, an old-time community fair with a carnival, entertainment and food. Nearly the entire town turned out and more than a dozen police officers directed the crowds and traffic. Think I was a little nervous? To make matters worse, our longtime vendor that ran the carnival retired without notice. When I learned that, I felt the collar on my neck tighten. It gets worse. At the next meeting the Lions were quiet and unresponsive. I’m actually a professional project manager. But I knew when I was licked. “This is never going to work,” I muttered as I left out clubhouse. “I can’t do this all by myself.” The club secretary, older than 80, heard me and smacked me lightly on the back of the head. “You need to delegate, dummy,” she said. “Exactly who am I going to delegate to? They were stone silent in there.” She glared right back. “You read them wrong. They were just waiting for you to ask them to help. Some big project manager you are.” In my anxiety about a new role, I had forgotten a few basic rules of project management. People execute the project work and people get the job done. Leaders need to identify human resource needs early on. Begin delegating when a good project team is in place. I’ve managed projects of all types and sizes in both the public and private sectors for more than two decades and been a Lion since 1999. Without a doubt, the guidelines, rules and planning that lead to successful projects in the work world also will help Lions be successful with their service projects. Project management can be complex but every club can do well with its projects if it follows five basic principles: 1. Write a project charter. Describe your objectives clearly and in detail. 2. Build the project team. Define critical roles, responsibilities and communication methods. 3. Plan the project. Understand how the project will move from initiation to successful delivery. 4. Manage project issues. This is key. Every project has issues. Manage them or be managed by them. Unresolved issues often evolve into risks that threaten the project’s success. Most issues are fairly easy to resolve. Only a small percentage deserves a great deal of attention. 5. Track and report the progress of the project. Keep the project on target by indentifying its progress against the plan. Keep Lions and other stakeholders informed. After I calmed my nerves and realized I need to practice what I preached, the planning for Prairie Days went well. I called another meeting and made a point of including everyone in the discussion and asked who would be willing to help. A few minutes later four committees were in place and not long afterward Prairie Days went off without a hitch. May your Prairie Days or whatever events or projects your club holds go well. But remember that a detailed, pragmatic plan greatly increases your chances of success. District 19C Governor David Pratt of Yelm, Washington, is the author of Pragmatic Project Management: Five Scalable Steps to Success.
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