Getting Things Moving : Completing Started Projects Print
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Written by Corina Mihaela Paraschiv   
Tuesday, 10 February 2009 19:11


You may have run into this problem before: You have an enthusiastic group of Rotaractors ready to devote their time for a good cause, the project starts... and somewhere in the middle, you realize things aren't being done and people slowly are losing interest.  What kind of actions can you take as a Club Executive?  Here are a few insights to getting projects finished.


Why it's Important for a Club to Complete Projects
One of the ways in which we retain members is by providing a stimulating, rewarding environment for Rotaractors.  When a given club repeatedly fails to deliver the event or project it undertook with members, the effect is very negative on the morale of participants;  Rotaractors feel they have failed and that they do not have the proper skill set for undertaking such projects.  They result might be loss of motivation or reluctance to start anything new.  The cause which was depending on you also does not benefit from your club dropping a project, and this can be of consequence for your club's reputation.  It is therefore important to follow through with project ideas.


 The Principle behind Completing Projects

Often, one of the things that happens with inexperienced project leaders in Rotaract is that they do not know how to pace the projects they've been assigned to lead and do not get a sense of how to organize their meetings and meeting times.  Ideally, the quciker you get things done, the better off your club will be.  People have short attention span and are sometimes difficult to convince in terms of your club being credible and worth their time.  By completing projects in the shortest time frame possible (and reasonnable -- some projects are more large scale and long-term than others), you allow Rotaractors to feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction sooner rather than having to work for a very long time before seeing the fruit of their efforts.  This is rewarding and boosts their self-esteem up for future ideas.  Below are, therefore, the basic path to take when reviewing projects or managing a team for a Rotaract project.  By following these steps, you will be able to cut the waste of time and get projects done faster.  This does not mean your club should just do project after project and wear everyone out, but it does mean that once a project is done, you may have some extra time to reward Rotaractors with Professional Development (vocational service) activities or fellwoship (friendship, socials, exchanges with other clubs), etc. 


How to use this Guide

This Guide highlights the steps involved in completing projects by identifying when projects tend to lag and remain unactive for too long of a period, losing Rotaractor's interests.  You may either use this as a review tool for past (successful or unsuccessful) projects, or you may use it ongoing as a way to track whether your project directors are doing a good job. 

Where should you start?
Although you could start systematically reviewing every single activity you're doing, it might be more profitable to first look only at problematic projects (the ones that are running behind schedule and where nothing seems to be done) and apply one of the three following ideas: 

  1. Benchmarking : Looking at how your other projects are going or at how other organizations like Rotaract (for instance Engineers Without Boarders, AISEC, etc.) run should give you an idea of on average how much time should be required to accomplish certains steps of your projects.  It's especially important if you're dealing with new Rotaract leaders for whom this is the first project they lead; they may not know how much a project takes, so giving them a point of reference can be useful and it can help you set a line beyond which you must step in as a President of executive and help out the group move out from inertia.
  2. Theory of Constraints: Once you've used benchmarks, and identified areas where the project is using up too much time or too many Rotaractors compared to what a comparable project typically would use up, you can focus your attention on the particular issues that slow the project down, and try to remove those constraints.  This way of proceding is called the theory of contraints.
  3. Kaizen Principle: If you do run into problems and are not sure of how to improve things, you can try the Kaizen approach, which is to make each step in the project efficient so the project runs smoothly.  The article you find here gives you an idea of how to do this.
  4. Reingineering: If you realize your steps are all efficient and STILL they do not accomplish your goals fast enough and people get bored and drop out of the project in the process, you may consider redeisgning the steps completely from scratch with the team of Rotaractors.  Maybe there's a COMPLETELY different way in which you could organize your project to get it done.

    Now let's see the easy steps to finally getting things moving and project successfully completed!


 Step 1 : Identifying the Activities for Project Completion

The First step involves breaking down all of your projects into small, manageable steps.  For instance don't just say "book the event room", break it down in sub-steps such as phone the venue, visit it, see if budget allows you to rent it, etc.


Step 2: Go Down the Decision-Tree

To find out if an activity has added-value, ask yourself the three following questions:
Is the activity necessary?
Is it efficiently perfomed?
Is it sometimes adding value and sometimes not?

This will give you an indication of whether you should look closer at this activity or not.  Don't waste your time analysing activities that are necessary and are well performed and always need to be performed.  Rather, focus on the problematic ones.  The steps involved are simple and they are described below. 


Decision Tree to Improve Club's Activities



Identify which of the Activities you listed are Not Added-Value
If you find an activity you are running has no added value, that it is completely unecessary, just eliminate the activity altogether.  Alternatively, eliminate only the parts of the activity that are not necessary.  For instance, if you have one person checking out the rates for a room to host an event and you have someone else who has to confirm whether that is within the budget, you can eliminate the need for the first person to come back with the info and tell the other so he can inform you of whether there is enough budget - either give the inquiring person access to the club's budget or put the treasurer in charge of finding the cost for the venue selected.


Ask yourself whether you are using the best way to achieve your goal.
This implies that if the activity is necessary, you will consider various ways to achieve it.  In the example previously used, finding a room for your gala can be done in several ways.  You could post a notice on craigslist, you could use the yellow pages, you could ask Rotarians if their businesses rent out rooms, go for a drive in the neighborhood and notice signs up for event rentals, etc.  The question at this point is which of the alternatives is the best (most efficient) way to do this in?  Select the best way to procede from all the activity choices. 


Is the activity done in an optimal way?
Now say you decided that using the Internet was the best way to access all the possible venues for the event.  Visiting each venue without phoning and inquiring about the size and the price of it first may turn out to be a waste of time.  Make sure you reduce the time and budget spent on each activity to be as efficient as possible and keep things moving.  That step is represented on the chart as activity reduction.


Are we leveraging the other projects we're doing?
One way you can also get things moving at a great pace is to kill two birds in one stone.  For instance, my club was trying to organize both a Salsa Dance event and a Beer Pong (drinking) event for a fundraiser -- and both could be done in the same type of venue.  So we put one person in charge of finding a bar that could accomodate both events, or at least get us the info we could use for both event.  This saved us time and resources, as our club did not have many people yet and others could work on other tasks such as getting the posters and tickets printed or promoting the event.  An alternative to leveraging other activities is to see whether you are friends with other associations.  For one of our events, our President had the idea to piggy-back on an event ran by Engineers Without Boarders since they had already rented the venue and were looking for a form of entertainment - which we could prevent.  By sharing our resources, both clubs came out winners!  This is called Activity Sharing.

If you find you've done all of these steps for all the activities that were not being efficient in your projects, you'll soon discover getting a project completed is easier than you think!  Give it a try!


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 February 2009 01:52 )