Gary has written a number of books on Project Management for kids and for us grown-ups.
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Excerpts from Episode 37 – “Project Management for Kids, project vision and project timing”
Project Kid’s Adventures
A series of books that targets 9 to 12 year olds. In 2012, we visited Vancouver and connected with the PMI Educational Foundation, who suggested Project Management at the middle school level. The Ultimate Treehouse Project came out in March of 2013, and every year since there’s been a book out–The Scariest Haunted House Project Ever (2014), The Amazing Science Fair Project (2014), The Valentine’s Day Project Disaster (2015). Coming up is The Easter Bully Transformation Project.
The challenge is–how am I going to write something that is going to be exciting for kids and still pass that message along. For the kids, we wrote it as a novel, while still carrying the messages. In the books, we start off with the simple stuff like planning.
In The Ultimate Treehouse Project, when the boys start working on a tree-house they find the tree, hammer, nails, wood, and go to town. Their older sister finds their secret tree-house, but the boys refuse her help, so she goes home upset. She speaks to her father–who is a project manager–, and he suggests that she builds her tree house. Her father asks if she wants to make a better tree-house in an easier way as a project. Her father explains to her about project phases–initiation, planning, execution, close-out, and project control–and then puts them in simpler terms such as think, plan, do, finish up, and control lead check and correct. He also covers the basic of planning, builds a Gantt Chart, and introduces the importance and elements of planning.
How do you break down project vision?
It’s part strategy, goal, and motive. To have a successful vision, you have to paint the big picture. It has to be a far-out vision. In your projects, you may have a high-level vision, but you can get stuck at the bottom with the details and lose sight of the focus. You have to remind your team why you’re here, what you’re aiming for, so you don’t get stuck on the details.
Having a vision and driving force is important for keeping your team motivated and making sure that you’re still going in the right direction.
Delivering projects on time.
Creating different schedules or a buffer for your team that will allow them to deliver the project on time. For example, moving the project delivery date up a week earlier from the actual due date, so there is a week-long buffer.
The alternative is to be hard and firm to make sure that your team isn’t going to be late by regularly checking in if they are going to be on time and deliver. This works but can affect the relationship unless you balance it by having them deliver when you need it and not exposing your internal requirements. It is important to keep everything working together and on track to prevent delay.