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Common Sense Tricks for Project Managers: Begin with the End in Mind

written by: John P. Reiling • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 8/7/2017

All too often projects take on a life of their own and people lose sight of its purpose. How can you find a navigational tool for communicating throughout the project, a compass for guiding priorities and decisions and the foundation for setting up systems to measure your progress?

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    Begin with the End in Mind The late Stephen Covey was famous for his emphasis on keeping the end in mind. It does not just apply to projects in the workplace and even the profession of project management. It really applies to everything in our lives, where it is valuable to have a clear vision of our destination.

    By having a clear vision of the end in mind, we set up a natural compass within ourselves that helps us to get there proactively. Of course, this does not happen when we don’t have a clear picture of the end in mind.

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    Looking at Layers

    More specifically, Covey listed the layers where we need clear vision:

    • Each day: Where do we want to be at the end of this day? What do we want to accomplish?
    • Task: What is the product or end result of this task? What will we have at the end if we accomplish what we set out to do?
    • Project: What is the product or outcome of our project? What do we need to accomplish?
    • Your life: What do we want to accomplish by the end of our lives? This is the ultimate question for us personally, and can be distilled into our personal mission statement.
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    Other Areas Where the End Matters

    Of course these areas are not the only areas where beginning with the end matters. There could be a program within the organization that has a desired end that represents the purpose of the program. There could be a business strategy that will take a company to the next level. There could be an ultimate goal for an athlete. Beginning with the end in mind does not necessarily mean the ultimate end of the road. It can be the end or a single step in the process of getting to the ultimate goal.

    It can apply to virtually every initiative that we are undertaking at the moment?

    What end do you have in mind for any given project, task or activity that is important and central to you right now?

Common Sense Tricks for Project Managers

This series of four articles on ‘common sense tricks for project managers covers changing perspectives, understanding roles and relationships, BLUF and beginning with the end in mind.
  1. Common Sense Tricks for Project Managers: The Sanity Check
  2. Common Sense Tricks for Project Managers: Organizational Roles and Relationships
  3. Common Sense Tricks for Project Managers: Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF)
  4. Common Sense Tricks for Project Managers: Begin with the End in Mind