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Labor Day Week: The Work of Keeping a Project Moving by Nora Douglas

Hello! My name is Nora E. Douglas and I am a consultant at CNM Connect where we provide evaluation and capacity building services to nonprofit organizations. One of the common challenges I consistently face is managing projects and keeping them moving towards a final deliverable. I have found the following four tips to be useful in the successful completion of my evaluation projects.

Hot Tip #1: Make a Plan and Follow Through

This tip can be attributed to Stephen Covey’s second habit “Begin with the End in Mind” from his 1989 book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. For a different perspective, you can also delve into the world of the Project Management Professional (PMP)®. You need to know where you want to go and make a specific and clear plan for how to do that.

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Hot Tip #2: Seek out an evaluation champion.

I am always on the lookout for a “champion”; the person within the organization that I’m evaluating that can create enthusiasm and momentum for the project and ensure success.

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Hot Tip #3: Identify constraints.

The Theory of Constraints was introduced in 1984 for Eliyahu M. Goldratt in his book titled, The Goal. There is always at least one constraint in a project, and identifying that constraint and restructuring the project around it can assist in completing the project successfully.

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Hot Tip #4: Address tendencies to procrastinate.

I’m guessing we all have procrastinated at one point or another. Procrastination can leave you feeling guilty and anxious about completing the project on time. Two ways I deal with procrastination are to publically commit to getting something done and creating small steps that lead to big progress. Another way to deal with procrastination is to determine the importance and urgency of tasks and which to tackle first.

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Time management matrix as described in Merrill and Covey 1994 book “First Things First,” showing “quadrant two” items that are important but not urgent and so require greater attention for effective time management (Photo credit: Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons)

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Labor Day Week in Evaluation: Honoring the WORK of evaluation. The contributions this week are tributes to the behind the scenes and often underappreciated work evaluators do. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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