How Do You Herd The Proverbial Cats?

The project starts off great. Everything is going just as you have planned. There are no problems and no issues to report. Every task is on track and every Deliverable has been delivered.

But, a little more time passes and the project begins to stray a bit. There may be some dates that are missed and scope creep begins to enter into the picture. Expectations may have been missed or need to be reset as they are out of alignment with reality.  Next thing you know, what was starting off as a project that was under control now is suddenly out of control!

You can picture “the cats” heading for the hills. They are off their leashes and are heading straight for the fences. They are running away from you as fast as they can. So you may wonder, how can you get these “cats” back into the fence? How do you herd the proverbial cats?

There are three steps in order to get these cats back in the fence:

Get Everyone That Owns a Cat Together

These are stakeholders for the project. They could be functional managers or key resources that are working on deliverables where there has been some confusion. Get all of them on a call, in the same room or whatever it is going to take in order to get them together so they can hear each other’s perception of where they feel the project stands.

Ask Everyone if Someone Else’s “Cat” is in Their Yard

This cat could be something along the lines of a missed deliverable or perhaps there was incorrect communication.  Someone may be waiting on an audit or a decision to be made. Identify anything and everything that is holding up that person from moving forward, because somebody else’s problem is in their yard.

Ask Them if They Know Where Their Cats Are

Make sure that they are aware of the fact that nobody should be waiting on a deliverable from them either. At the end of this meeting everyone needs to have the same perception of reality about the project.

The fact that you have everybody together allows all parties to agree, disagree, or to ask for clarification where these issues, problems, and delays may be. You can begin to quickly reign in and herd those cats into their fences, get them back on their leashes and get them back  to work.

 NOTE: Be prepared to do this multiple times throughout the life-cycle of a project depending upon the complexity. These cats have a tendency to get away and head for the fences time and time again throughout the implementation of any project.

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