TL;DR: The same way we market products to generate buzz and attract success, good project managers know how to create a “project image” that will keep momentum moving, team members engaged, and collaborators interested in being helpful.
Without a marketing campaign it’s almost impossible to introduce a new product into the market, while a good marketing campaign might make people chase a seller for more products. Your project is no different. You’d be amazed at the amount of time that can be saved for a project manager simply by marketing the project in a better way.
When people want to attend your project meetings, you don’t need to chase them down. If they find your project attractive and engaging, chances are they will fulfill their tasks and duties as planned. So, are we suggesting a marketing campaign for your project? Not exactly.
It’s All About The Project Image
Have you noticed that with every new project, a “Project Image” is also created? Projects, like many things in life, can either be attractive or unattractive. Some have a low confidence level, while others are considered a sure win. With the right image, handling and collaborating on projects becomes easier. But how do you create the right image for your project?
When People Understand, They Tend To Be More Helpful
First, you have to make sure people understand the project – providing them with a clear visual plan to review helps people engage with a project, and engaged people are more likely to help you succeed. People tend to “buy in” to a project, be more cooperative, and even make decisions, when they have a good understanding of what the project is about.
Take the opportunity to pitch the project’s background along with the visual plan you prepared to hook people in. Never (wrongly) assume that people “already know” – you know the saying: “when you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME…You will not believe how open team members are to hearing more about the background of the project and to extending their knowledge of its history and past decisions.
Your Project Image will enjoy every piece of useful background information you provide. With a story behind the project, the project is no longer flat! It has history and reasoning, customers and justifications. People will cooperate more eagerly with an engaging project story.
Success Is Attractive
Most people want to escape failures. Nobody wants to be part of a disastrous project or late delivery. On the other hand, everybody wants to be related to success and part of a winning team.
When a project is considered a success, it’s the place people will want to be…saving you a lot of time and effort with needing to chase your collaborators. An attractive project will always fare better.
But not all projects are successful! Luckily, you don’t need the projects to necessarily be successful to use success as a driving force. A project team can be very successful in executing a recovery plan for delay. It can do outstandingly well in managing damage control with an angry client.
Every project holds such opportunities for success, which is really the sum of all the small steps the team takes in the right direction. This approach to project success is crucial when the going gets tough – because the harder the situation gets, the more this method of small wins is needed.
Curiosity Killed The Cat
Curiosity Killed The Cat was the name of a British pop band that was active from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. I don’t know about the cat, but the band is dead. Curiosity is not, and it’s here to stay. To move the project team in the right direction you need to summon the curious energy that naturally exists within any group of people. Curiosity makes people want to explore, eager to learn, travel far and wide, and delve deep and beyond. If curiosity is such a powerful driver, why not harness it to market your project to success? So: how can curiosity help your project?
Marketing savvies use commercials and ads to pique our curiosity to learn more about new offers and products. Project managers can do the same for their project! Take any meeting agenda as an example. There is nothing curious about a list with the issues and obstacles the team is tackling. People will happily find a “more important” place to be, instead of your meeting.
But, what if the agenda included one item titled “John presents his take on last week’s mobile technology conference?” Could that help? Absolutely! This is not a typical item for a project meeting agenda, and people will be curious what the item is doing on the agenda. It will cost 10 minutes of meeting time – and it will be worth every single one! Start adding one unrelated item to the agenda, make people curious, and you will soon have interested and engaged collaborators for your project.
Much like curiosity, competition is a great driving force that sets people in the right direction. Combine the two together and you’ll probably learn what happened to the cat…Tracking performance by team will engage the team and they’ll start asking: are we up or down this week? Are we ahead of the other teams? Are we being measured correctly?
Taking the advantages of competition isn’t simple. It requires using tools to calculate, measure and present progress and success. Those parameters need to be calculated per team, and the calculation method needs to be simple enough – you want team members curious and competitive, not wasting time arguing about the results!
With these parameters in place, you can continuously and repeatedly use curiosity and competition to drive your project forward. You may be curious to find out how much work people are willing to do to come first and stay first!
How is your Project Image doing?
You can learn about the status of the Project Image from daily work. Keep the plan clear and visual, and provide a well explained project background. Use driving forces like success, natural curiosity and competition. You will most likely enjoy a better project image within the company, which will translate into a smoother operation and team collaboration.