PART 1 :
"I've got the key, i've got the secret"
it's Consistency!

Thanks for taking the time to open and read my points of view, I’m extremely passionate about all the topics I blog about and even if you take one thing from this let me know. 

I was seventeen when the Urban Cookie Collective released those lyrics in 1993, not the consistency part! And it’s been one of those songs that regularly pops up in my head, not just because it reminds me of youthful memories but also because it makes me smile and release those endorphins. And yes, my wife constantly reminds me that my music catalogue is rather ‘cheesy’, but so what…. this song, along with other randoms, such as Thunderstruck by ACDC, enables me to let loose and be creative. When I’m not consistently listening to those songs throughout my working months, my routine and productivity differ.

It’s the same with exercise; I run between 8 and 10 miles every day, and unless I have a specific reason not to be able to run, then missing this routine changes my mindset for the day and, ultimately, my mental state. That’s just how I’m built; if I miss the odd run or don’t listen to the music I enjoy once or twice, all is good. But if I consistently miss these things, this will ultimately change how I act and project myself.

Seems silly, right? And why am I waffling on about this when I should be talking about the Extended Workforce?

I’m telling you this because being mindful of what consistently works for yourself should also apply to your working environment and, ultimately, how you manage the scope of your Extended Workforce.

Over my years in the industry, I have seen colleagues, clients and partners demonstrate such greatness but not repeat those activities to replicate the success seen. We have all done it, whether it’s not updating that weekly scope tracker when you should have forgotten to highlight a vital scope risk during a meeting you should have prepared for.

I wanted to share my view on the importance of consistency when managing the scope of your extended workforce. There are two sides to this for me: the required consistent mindset, which I want to focus on in part 1, and the other, which is more focused on tactical consistency, which will be in part 2.

Having a consistent mindset to managing scope

For me, this is so important; if you don’t apply the right mindset, then it’s likely that you won’t be tactically consistent with tasks and activities, making them be completed ineffectively.

I have read several books around consistency, from ‘The Power of Consistency by Weldon Long’ to ‘Ruthless Consistency by Michael Canic’ and seen a wide range of views to be mindful of. I’m not one for following one strict playbook but looking at differing opinions and finding something that works for me. In previous roles, I pushed hard on my teams to be consistent in their approach. Although each person has a routine that enables them to be successful, I found providing a simple set of consistency principles helped me and my teams when supporting the management of an Extended Workforce. So, with that, let me share with you what I believe is essential to strive for when it comes to a consistent mindset.

Pro-active Forward Thinking

A proactive mindset instead of being reactive is key to successfully managing scope. If you are not always looking ahead and planning for what could happen, this will lead to unknown risks that pop up. I believe having this mindset also enables a willingness to learn and grow; if you sit and wait for the magic to happen, it won’t. So go ahead, re-review that scope, chase down those data gaps and ask your stakeholders if they are still getting the value they expect.

One of the biggest pitfalls I have seen is not being proactive to challenge the need versus the value. I have seen client stakeholders request some crazy data dashboard needs, mainly because it’s company policy. Countless hours can be spent developing these, and once implemented, it’s found that no one is using them. All it would have taken was a simple proactive challenge to the value of why it’s being created, and maybe a better solution would have been found that would have been more valuable and actually utilised.

Communicate Consultatively

There are many successful communication methods, but when it comes to managing the scope of your Extended Workforce, I believe it must be done consultatively. It’s a style that involves taking other people’s points of view into account and responding in a way that enables collaboration and mutual understanding. When managing scope, you often need to communicate effectively with senior stakeholders. Demonstrating poor communication styles, such as not asking questions, ignoring difficult news, indirect outreach, and insufficient follow-up, can be counterproductive and tally towards losing the scope you wanted for something that won’t work to manage your Extended Workforce.

Regardless of the service provider mix to support a client’s extended workforce, I have always found success from all parties working as one and in a consultative manner.

Dynamic Approach

Having a dynamic approach is characterized by dealing with constant change and activity. It is a mindset focused on adapting to changing circumstances and taking advantage of new opportunities, which is critical when managing the scope of your workforce. I link being dynamic with having a positive outlook, thus being ready to embrace change when it comes. I have been a part of over 200 Extended Workforce projects in my career, and a number of those have been run less dynamically and passively. Guess what…. a number of those projects still stick in my mind as being very challenging; if the leadership showed more dynamism and energy, I was sure that fewer challenges would have occurred, and even if there were challenges, they would have been dealt with more effectively.

Demonstrate Agility

If you are applying dynamism, then showing agility should not be an issue, but implementing agility is not always as easy as it might be in new areas. Being able to pivot and adopt different methods is personally critical to managing scope creep. A large percentage of the clients I have worked with have, at some point, changed focus due to new stakeholders coming in or the client just acquired a new entity. I specifically remember a client who was days away from signing off the scope, but due to new news of an impending HRIS system, they had to re-look at the scope of what data would need to be in play. This took a lot of mental strength to deal with as countless hours had already been put into getting to the current state, so the thought of having to rework had the potential to demotivate critical colleagues. If you come into any project with an agile mindset, you almost have already prepared yourself to know changes will come, thus being able to deal with them much more effectively.

Regular Reflection

Even if you think everything is excellent and there are no challenges with implementing your expected scope, scheduling a recurring reflection time is always a good practice. I have fallen foul of thinking, “I’m so busy; if I spend time reflecting on how things are going, I’ll just waste time getting things done”. That’s the wrong answer; reflection is as critical as getting work done so you can understand how work can be done better in the future. However, reflection is not always easy; it needs to be regularly scheduled with a fixed approach to what questions you ask yourself or the team managing your Extended Workforce. I have seen weekly project meetings utilized to take account for reflection, and I have seen this fail drastically (unless you are a project governance ninja!). From my experiences, trying to reflect in detail whilst thinking about other things you must do will not work or be marginally effective at best. The only way I have seen this work is that each project member schedules reflection time and then brings those items from reflection to the end of the meeting to share. Either way, reflection is critical to success and ensuring you effectively manage and understand your Extended Workforce scope.

So, in conclusion

I believe that being mindful of these aspects goes a long way to having a consistent mindset in managing scope. The goal is always to have a clear understanding of the project objectives, scope, and requirements and these attributes really help teams maintain focus on the project’s goals and ensuring that changes to the scope are carefully evaluated and aligned with the project’s objectives.

If any of this content has helped you ‘reflect 😉’ and you take one thing away, please let me know. If not, no worries, I have certainly taken something from it by putting my thoughts in writing. If you want to benefit from what EW Scope can bring to your organization then get in touch!

Look out for Part 2 which will focus more on tactical consistency.

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