Go Ahead and Reinvent the Wheel!

By Lakecia Carter, PMP

As PMs, there are common responses that we’ve either encountered or will encounter when we present new ideas to a team. Do any of the following sound familiar to you? “Thanks, but we’ve always done it this way”, “This is what we’ve done in the past” or “After all, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, right?” These are valid responses because we all leverage existing approaches or processes for the most part. However, what about when the “wheel” is not working? The wheel could be people, processes, or tools. When projects are not moving forward, PMs must create momentum. This may require that you reinvent the wheel. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind when doing so:

  1. Engage the team and get their input – Collaboration is the fuel for creativity and innovation. If the team feels that they are a part of the improvement, they will be more receptive to new ideas. Remember, you won’t make everyone happy, but you can achieve consensus on what everyone wants and that is, success!
  2. Start simple – Change can be overwhelming if you try to do too much at once. Pick an area of pain and focus on removing it before adding on other areas.
  3. Overcome the fear of the unknown – Fear is common where there’s change. The best way to deal with fear is to confront it head-on with knowledge and experience. You will never grow where you won’t go! It is wise to have a plan, but it is impossible to predict every outcome. Trust your gut and take a leap of faith.
  4. Expect chaos at first but be patient – Everyone (including you) is outside the comfort zone, therefore, it will undoubtedly be a period of transition – mentally and emotionally. Be sensitive to this dynamic and be prepared to endure the chaos.  After some time, you will gain momentum that will carry the team forward.
  5. Inspect and Adapt – Lessons learned is not meant for the very end of the project; there should be continual process of retrospectives and applying lessons throughout the life of the project. Be open to adjust your approach as you learn more.

As a PM, it is always a challenge to make things better than they were before you showed up. Every project is unique and you will always bring forward past experiences that worked well. By the same token, always look for ways to improve. When you see that the wheel is not taking you anywhere, do something about it! Take a chance and give it your best shot! Go ahead and reinvent the wheel!

Please share with other PMs ways that you have ‘reinvented the wheel” in your project!

2 Responses to “Go Ahead and Reinvent the Wheel!”

  1. Carla Mack says:

    Great article!

  2. Lakecia says:

    Thank you Carla!

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