This is a list I refer to regularly.
Initial Project Fact Finding
Write A List Of People Who Will Have Information You'll Need & The Types Of Information They're Likely To Have.
Build Rapport With Them By Reflecting Their Preferred Communication Style.
Prepare At Least One Open And One Closed Probe For Every Topic You Plan To Address.
Gather Information Until You're Sure About The Project's (1) Purpose, (2) Outcome, (3) Value, (4) Potential Problems, (5) Your Responsibility & Authority, (6) The Budget & (7) The Deadline.
Getting Enthusiastic Help From Participants
Start Building Your Overall Influence Foundation By Sincerely & Proactively Developing A Supportive Network.
Mini-Max Participant Outcomes You'd Prefer & You'd Need, Then Mini-Max A Range Of Commitment You'll Request.
Use Priority & Ability Probe Information To Determine Whether A Potential Participant Needs Telling, Selling, A Delegated Task Or Coaching/Training To Succeed.
Planning The Project
Get People Involved In The Early Planning Stages Of Your Projects.
Explore Creative Solutions When Risk Is Low And Upside Potential Exists.
Develop Draft Goal & Milestone Sequences As Early As Possible To Focus Project Team Input.
Prepare Project Charts That Reveal Enough Detail So You Can Effectively Spot Potential Trouble & Proactively Manage Key Dependencies.
Prime Mover Review Meetings
Keep Your Project Prime Mover Up To Speed On Results & Plan Variances.
Prepare An Agenda & Objective(s) For Every Project Review Meeting (Initial, Periodic & Emergency).
Avoid Meetings When Another Method Will Yield The Same Or A Better Result.
Make Time To Prepare For & Follow Through On All Project Meetings.
Have The Tact & Courage To Exhort, Present, Control, Summarize & To Ask For Specific Action/Resource Commitments.
Time Management For The Project Manager
Load Your Planner With All Key Activities And Outcome Dates. Refer To It Before Saying "Yes" To Anyone.
Prioritize Planned Activities &, When Asked For Help, Clarify, Calibrate, Compare & Either Challenge or Cooperate To Protect Your Plan.
Use Milestones To Reduce Procrastination; Hand Off Results When They're "Business Ready" To Control Perfectionism; Use The Next Response Rule To Improve Listening.
Influencing Participants & Prime Movers
Anticipate Project Changes & Influence People To Keep Your Project On Line.
Learn Enough About Team Members To Identify Their Wants/Needs & To Work Participant Benefits Into Your Projects.
When Influencing, Ask More Questions/Probes Than Usual. Best Case - Talk 30% & Listen 70%.
Welcome Resistance And Discuss/Problem Solve Objections In A Way That Builds Partnering Relationships.
Ask For Resources, Support And Commitments From Project Prime Movers & Milestone/Time Commitments From Project Players.
Presenting Project Results
Find Out About Your Audience's Expectations, Interests, Familiarity With The Project And Their Opinions Of The Project Before Preparing.
Prepare A Presentation Goal First, Then Write Enabling Points That Support The Goal.
Select Facts, Evidence And/Or Expert Opinion That Support Each Enabling Point.
Be Sure To Use The Presentation For Interaction - Not Core Dumping.
Teamwork From Project Teams
Identify Your Participant's Team Maturity Level - Do They Identify With The Project And Each Other?, Are They Motivated To Learn And Achieve?, Do They Trust Each Other And You?, Do The Communicate About The Project Frequently, Meaningfully And/Or Productively?
Find Things That You, As Leader, Can Start And Stop That Will Help Your Team Mature From Dependence Through Independence To Interdependence.
Emphasize Listening, Trust Building, Empowerment And Balance As Team Priorities.
Celebrate Project Team Successes During And At The Conclusion Of The Project.
Write Personal Thank You Notes To Individual Project Contributors.
Consider Debriefing The Team And Prime Movers - Harvest And Capture Lessons Learned.
Download a pdf version of the Project Checklist by clicking on any word in this sentence.
Sales Productivity Checklist
(First Things First)
Where Are My Key Accounts & What Is Their Growth/Profitability Outlook?
What Are My Sales & Margin Objectives For All My Core Accounts?
What Outcomes Must I Make Happen By When To Meet My Account & Territory Objectives?
Who Are My Competitors & How Do We Stack Up In Terms Of Exclusives & Better Thans?
What Sales Tools, Joint Call Support, Authority & Pricing Input Do I Need & How Do I Set It Up?
(Facts To Find)
Do They Need My Product Or Service & Do They Have The Resources To Pay?
Are They Happy With Their Current Supplier?
Who Is The Decision Maker & Who Are The Influencers?
What Do They Do And How Do They Do It?
When & How Do They Make Buying Decisions?
Who Are My Established Competitors & What Are My "Better Thans" and "Exclusives."
Have I Learned Enough And Told Them Enough To Ask For A Second Call And To Effectively Sell During It?
(Need To Know)
What Was My Last Call Objective?
What Did I Learn And What Did I Promise During The Last Call In This Account?
Have I Learned Anything Since My Last Call That Could Be Important To A Key Contact?
What Is My Objective(s) For This Call?
What Probes Can I Ask That Are Likely To Reveal Information I Need?
Is There Anything/Anyone I Should Bring To The Call?
Is There Anyone Else From The Client Company Who Should Attend?
What Are My Key Contact's Call Objectives?
Are There Any Objections I Can Anticipate?
Where Is The Best Place To Have This Call (Client's Office, Lunch, Dinner, Etc.)?
What Time Of Day & Length Of Call Is Best?
During The Call
(Things To Do)
Adapt To The Client's Style & Stay Focused.
Let The Client Know Why I'm There.
Do Less Talking Than The Client.
Ask My Probes & Follow Up As Needed.
Actively Listen For Main & Supporting Points.
Restate & Confirm The Client's Key Points.
Find Ways To Develop Relationships.
Connect Customer Needs To The Ways I Can Add Value To An Ongoing Business Relationship.
Close (On A Next Meeting, A Deal, Something).
After The Call
Write Notes Or A Call Report (Objective, Analysis, Next Actions & Recommendations).
Follow Up & Follow Thru Directly With My Management & Others As Needed.
Do What I've Promised.
Think About How To Develop The Account.
Download a pdf version of the Seller's Checklist by clicking on any word in this sentence.
High Yield Training Checklist
What Are The Specific, Immediate & Important Competencies You Seek? (What Must You Know & Be Able To Do That Warrant The Training Investment?)
Is A Training Session The Best Way To Develop The Needed Competencies? (Consider A Book, Coaching, Mentoring, A Video On The Subject, etc.)
Does Your Boss Agree With The Need For The Targeted Competencies & Is She Willing To Help You Follow Thru? (Will She Prioritize & Hold You Accountable For Each New Competency?)
Can You Identify A Training Program With Training Objectives That Match Your Learning Objectives?
Will The Content And Activities Described In The Program Agenda Clearly & Convincingly Produce The Targeted Learning Objectives?
Is There Assigned Or Recommended Pre-Work To Improve Program Effectiveness Or Efficiency?
Have You Prepared Need-Specific Work Situations To Work On In Class?
Did You Arrive Early Enough To Meet The Instructor And Discuss Your Learning Expectations?
Did You Review The Program Book Before The Class Began To Identify Key Training Areas In Advance?
Did You Write Your Notes, Ideas And Comments In Your Program Book To Avoid Loss & Make Later Access Easy?
Did You Ask Questions Whenever Key Point Clarification Was Needed Or You Wanted To Know How A Particular Skill Could Be Applied To Your Situation?
Did You Stretch Out Of Your Comfort Zone When Practicing New Skills During Group Role Plays?
Did You Maximize Practice & Feedback By Volunteering For Whole Class Demonstrations?
Did You Enthusiastically Participate During Large & Small Group Activities?
Did You Provide Thoughtful Feedback To Other Small Group Participants?
Did You Develop A Realistic Follow Through Plan Before Leaving?
Did You Meet With Your Boss As Soon As Possible To Review The Program Experience & Follow Thru Plan?
Did You Solicit Coaching Help From A Boss Or Mentor To Help You Stay On Track With Your Follow Thru Plan?
Did You Schedule Competency-Building Activities Into Your Daily Planner?
Did You Offer To/Actually Lead A Brown Bag Overview Of The Training Program High Points For Co-Workers?
Did You Review Your Levels Of Competency-Specific Improvement At Two, Four And Six Months-After?
Did You Provide The Company, Your Supervisor And/Or The Trainer With A Review Of The Program's Productivity- Enhancing Impact?
Download a pdf version of the High Yield Training Checklist by clicking on any word in this sentence.
Team Excellence Checklist
Playbook For Coordination
What Is The Specific Outcome Or Activity That The Team Is Responsible For? (Are They Solving A Problem (Solution), Resolving An Issue (Agreement), Or Testing A New Method (Preferable?)
Who Is The Team Sponsor & What Are The Performance/Outcome Standards?
Does The Team Possess Or Have Access To Sufficient Resources? (What New Equipment, Capital, Support, Etc. Will Or Might Be Required?)
Is The Team Made Up Of The Right Players? (Are Team Mates Skillful, Knowledgeable And Innovative Enough To Produce The Desired Outcome?)
Do All Team Mates Have A Roster That Is Dedicated Solely To Names, Numbers & Addresses Of The Team?
Has A Plan Been Prepared That Clearly Communicates Expected Team Actions, Handoffs And Outcomes?
Does Everyone On The Team Use A Planner To Schedule & Follow Through On Team Actions?
Fundamentals For Execution
Have All Team Mates Made Overt Commitments To Do Their Individual Best & To Work For Team Excellence?
Do Bosses To Whom Team Mates Report Adjust Workloads & Priorities To Allow For Team Participation?
Do Team Mates Look For Improvement Opportunities & Bring Them To The Team For Consideration?
Do Team Meetings Include Only Those People Who Are Required In Order To Accomplish The Meeting Objective?
Does The Team Leader Prepare & Distribute Team Meeting Summaries To The Entire Team & Others Who Need To Know?
Does The Team Practice Consensus When Considering Issues, Opportunities Or Problems? (Everyone's Opinions & Options Are Voiced & The Best Team Action Is Synthesized By The Leader.)
Do Team Mates Take Note Of & Comment On The Unique Contributions Of Others?
Do Team Mates Ask For Help Only When It Is Absolutely Essential?
Leadership For Direction
Does The Leader Establish & Maintain A Strong Relationship With The Team Sponsor?
Does The Leader Schedule & Protect Enough Time To Do All Of The Necessary Activities?
Does The Leader Make Team Decisions When Necessary & Delegate Decisions When Appropriate?
Does The Leader Use Plans & Performance Information To Anticipate & Pre-empt Problems Or Shortfalls?
Does The Leader Support, Encourage & Have Fun With Team Mates?
Does The Leader Identify & Remedy Conflicts Between Team Mates, Team Mates & Their Bosses & Others Who Might Impact Team Success?
Download a pdf version of the Team Excellence Checklist by clicking on any word in this sentence.
Meeting Master Checklist
Before The Meeting
Be Sure to bring enough business cards for all participants
Be Sure to prepare questions before arriving
Do not leave meeting without contact information business cards, emails, fax #, etc.
Is A Meeting The Best Way To Handle Your Communication Need? (Consider A Memo, Conference Call, E - mail, Video Conference, Presentation, etc.)
What Must You Leave The Meeting With (A Decision, Commitment, Ideas, Consensus, etc.) In Order For It To Be A Success? (After You Answer This, Revisit The Question Above)
What Is The Sequence Of Topics That Must Be Addressed In Order To Accomplish Your Meeting Objective?
In What Ways (Discussion, Brainstorming, Planning, etc.) Must You Address Each Topic And For How Long?
Who Must Be Present At Your Meeting For You To Accomplish Your Objective?
Where Should The Meeting Be Held In Order To Increase Comfort And Reduce Influence? (i.e.. You Influence More In Your Office)
When Should You Meet And For How Long?
Have You Prepared And Sent A Detailed Agenda To All Participants?
During The Meeting
Did You Arrive Early Enough To Prep The Meeting Room And Yourself?
Did You Start The Meeting On Time?
Did You Confirm That Everyone Received And Understood The Agenda And Is Prepared To Work?
Did You Introduce The First Agenda Topic And Indicate The Preferred Way Of Addressing It e.g. "Generating Ideas Is The Approach I'd Like To Suggest With Our First Item, Sales Initiatives.")
Did You Encourage The Less Talkative And Ride Herd On Monopolizers?
Did You Alert The Meeting Members When Agenda Items Were Within 2 to 5 Minutes Of Their Allotted Time? (e.g.. "We've Got Five Minutes Left With This Item, So . . .")
Did You Use A Concerns Flipchart To Capture Unfinished Business?
Did You Summarize & Confirm Conclusions And Commitments?
Did You Thank Participants?
Did You Take Notes?
After The Meeting
Did You Complete A Short, Clear Summary Of The Meeting, With Emphasis On Decisions And Commitments That Were Made?
Did You Distribute The Meeting Summary To Every Participant And Anyone Else With A Need To Know Within 36 Hours Of The Meeting?
Did You Begin And/Or Complete Any And All Of The Actions That You Committed To During The Meeting?
Did You Follow Up With any Meeting Participant Who Made A Commitment?
Did You Express Thanks To Any Participants Who Added Superior Levels Of Value To Your Meeting?
Did You Probe Any Participants Who Were Unusually Quiet Or Who Expressed Reservations With Topics Or Outcomes?
Download a pdf version of the Meeting Master's Checklist by clicking on any word in this sentence.
High yield activities
Be prepared to give an account of results
Prepare reports-utilize spread sheets
Write it down and keep a record
Don't be afraid to ask questions
Be prepared to ask questions
See/think/anticapate around the corner
What is the company’s image within the community?
How has it responded to any events that may have damaged its reputation?
What measures has it taken to improve its image?
Have you identified a champion for the project (one who is staunch advocate!)
What is the organizational structure of the company?
Are there concerns about excessive levels of management?
Are there concerns about excessive or inadequate spans of control?
About a clear definition of authority and responsibility?
What are the formal and informal networks within the company through which critical activities are performed?
How well do these networks function?
Who are the key leaders of the company?
What significant changes have recently taken place in the leadership?
Does the leadership of the company actively plan for its own succession in the best interest of the company, its owners, and its employees?
What are the backgrounds and experiences of the key leaders?
How well do the key leaders' backgrounds and experiences prepare them to lead the company?
What is the leadership style of the key leaders (e.g., participative, autocratic, militaristic, formal, informal, etc.)?
How well-suited is this leadership style to the needs of the company?
What are the leaders’ views on taking risk?
Are they taking an appropriate level of risk given the nature of the business?
What is the value system emphasized by leadership (i.e., the balance and emphasis given to meeting performance goals, providing customer service, achieving productivity and quality standards, etc.)?
What is the capital structure of the company (i.e., the portion of capital provided by common shareholders, preferred stock, long-term debt, short-term debt, etc.)?
What are the implications of this capital structure?
What are the major types and concentrations of ownership (e.g., sole owner, family, institutional investors, takeover specialist, etc.)?
What are the implications related to this ownership concentration?
Have there been any significant changes in ownership?
How are these ownership changes affecting the company?
Is this company vulnerable to takeover threats?
How has the company responded to takeover threats?
Have there been efforts to sell significant assets or divisions or the entire company?
What is the current situation related to such sales efforts?
Is the company regarded by employees and management as a rewarding place to work?
What are the key factors in this assessment?
How would you assess the motivation of employees to perform quality work?
What are key contributing factors?
How would you assess the work environment at the company (e.g., work ethic, spirit of cooperation, teamwork, trust, etc.)?
What has the company done to establish a positive work environment (e.g., communication of purpose and vision, employee participation in key decisions)?
Do management and employees have a strong customer service mentality?
What type of relationship does management have with the key shareholders?
What role do owners take in managing the company (e.g., active owner-manager, active shareholder groups)?
What relationships does management have with the key customer leaders?
What relationships does management have with the key regulatory & legislative leaders?
What is being done to strengthen these relationships?
What concerns are there about the availability of skilled workers to meet the company’s needs?
Has employee turnover been a significant factor?
What generates such significant turnover?
What steps has the company taken to manage these concerns (e.g., hiring from different skill areas and backgrounds, internal training programs, emphasis on retention)?
Has the company experienced any problems with labor relations?
What generates these labor problems?
How does the company ensure that its employees receive adequate formal and on-the-job training to perform their duties effectively?
How does the company ensure that its resources requirements are consistent with customer needs?
What alternative resources exist that might help the company improve its operations or maintain present standards?
Are there long production lead times at different points in the production process? What are the causes?
What steps has the company taken to improve lead times and shorten the length of the production process?
Are there high levels of materials or work-in-process?
What productivity techniques does the company use to minimize materials and work-in-process inventory (e.g., just-in-time techniques, centralized supply stocks, etc.)?
What innovative ideas have been implemented in the design and layout of plant or office facilities?
How might efficiency be improved in work areas?
What is the financial performance of the company for relevant periods?
Has the company experienced losses or profits that are below expectations or below the industry average?
If so, what are the reasons and what actions has the company taken to remedy the situation?
Are revenues or growth rates below expectations?
If so, what are the reasons and what actions has the company taken to remedy the situation?
Is the company in need of substantial additional capital?
How does it ensure that its operations are adequately financed?
Has there been sufficient growth in owners’ equity?
What actions has the company taken to ensure sufficient growth in equity for the owners?
How do the financial markets rate the company (e.g., financial strength, management capabilities, debt rating)?
Is its stock price undervalued?
What are the key expectations, or the “investment philosophy,” of the owners of the company (e.g., long-term growth, current earnings, tax shelter, etc.)?
How well are these expectations being met?
What is the company’s business purpose and strategy?
What customer segments and customer needs are addressed by this strategy?
How does this strategy differentiate the company from its competitors?
What are the key strategic issues?
What are the key assumptions underlying the business strategy?
How has the company’s strategy accounted for the changing wants and needs of customers?
How have its products and services evolved to meet those needs?
How does the business strategy take into account the strengths and possible actions of competitors?
How does the company consider the expectations of owners in developing its strategy?
What latitude is given by the owners to allow management to develop and pursue the strategy?
What changes are underway or anticipated in the availability, quality or cost of key resources?
How will these changes impact the business strategy?
What major changes are underway or anticipated in the key environmental factors affecting the business (e.g., demographic changes, technological advances, new laws and regulations, etc.)?
How will these changes impact the business strategy?
How is information acquired? Major area of focus-information resources
What are the primary types of information (e.g., reports, ad hoc information, etc.) used by management to run the business?
How do they obtain this information?
How well does it meet their needs?
What methods are used to regularly obtain information about customer wants and needs?
How is this information imparted to the company’s various organizational units and levels?
What information does the company regularly obtain about competitor actions, market share changes, and competitor strengths and weaknesses?
What information does the company regularly obtain about changes in key environmental forces affecting the business?
What information does the company regularly obtain about changes in the availability, quality or cost of resources needed in the business?
What information does management use to monitor and direct operations?
What methods are used to ensure that the people in the company have the right information to make the right decision in conducting their duties?
What methods are used to ensure adequate investigation of budget variations?
What technological tools are used to obtain information?
Is the acquistion of information high on the priority list?
Are information systems adequate to produce timely and accurate information needed to run the business?
What concerns does management have about its systems?
How effective are the accounting systems in recording and processing transactions?
How effective are the accounting systems at reporting budget versus actual variances?
What procedures are in place for controlling the development of software applications and changes to those applications?
What security measures are in place to protect the integrity of the information in the management information systems?
What measures are in place to capture and preserve key information potentially needed for litigation purposes?
What has the company done to establish an atmosphere of continuous improvement regarding quality, productivity, and customer responsiveness in its operations?
What performance measures has the company initiated to reinforce responsiveness to customer wants and needs (e.g., quality measures, productivity measures, timeliness measures, etc.)?
How does the company compare itself with best practices and results obtained by competitors?
How does the leadership monitor developments affecting customers, suppliers, and owners?
What types of contact does leadership have with suppliers?
How does leadership monitor developments among its key competitors?
How does leadership monitor the needs/desires of its key customers?
What significant customer needs/desires/issues have arisen most recently?
How does the company balance the potentially conflicting needs and values of the different interested parties?
How does leadership monitor critical developments/trends in the countries/regions in which it operates?
What are the most significant developments and trends in those countries and regions?
How does leadership monitor changes in environmental forces?
Does the production of different products or product lines require the frequent conversion of the production process?
Do high set-up costs and long delays for this conversion limit competitiveness and discourage flexibility in responding to different customer wants and needs?
What significant development efforts are planned or in process to produce new products or services (incl. E-commerce) or new production processes?
Does the company have sufficient access to new technology needed for its development activities?
How does the company ensure that it maximizes the benefits of technology in its production processes?
What are the opportunities for improving the quality or productivity of operations through the use of technology?
How does the company protect the value of its intellectual capital?
How does management communicate the business strategy to employees?
What are the primary tactics used by management to implement its strategy and monitor progress?
Do the employees believe in the strategy and understand their roles in executing it?
What are the company’s criteria for allocating scarce resources (e.g., human resources, capital, production facilities, etc.) between alternative uses (e.g., product lines, construction projects, etc.) set forth in the business strategy?
What new plans (e.g., new products, expansion into new markets) are contemplated by the business strategy?
How would you assess the business knowledge, management skills, and technical skills of key management personnel and key employee groups?
What are the significant concerns?
How does the company attract people with the right skills for the management and operations of the company?
How well do functions such as recruiting, promotion, counseling and termination support development of key competencies in the company?
How well do training programs support the development of necessary skills?
How are employees trained to recognize litigation risk inherent in their activities?
How are employees trained in dispute resolution methods?
How well do the formal and informal reward structures of the company support the competence and motivation of management and employees?
What efforts has the company made to ensure built-in, first-time quality in manufacturing of products or delivery of services?
How is quality monitored and measured?
What quality problems exist (e.g., long production or delivery time frames, missed deadlines or delivery dates, high scrap rates, high levels of reprocessing)?
What techniques does the company use to enhance quality and identify quality problems (e.g., statistical process control)?
Does the company provide quality checks throughout the production process or just at the end?
How well do various functions coordinate activities with each other (e.g., engineering with production, sales with distribution)?
What problems exist that undermine productivity and customer responsiveness?
What is the company’s long-term view of the business and the industry?
How is this view considered in the business strategy?
How does leadership inspire employees to pursue and achieve the vision it has set forth?
How does leadership communicate with employees on matters of strategy, plans and results?
What are the formal and informal methods used by leadership to spread their ideas throughout the company?
How effective are these methods?
Does leadership encourage employees to develop and communicate creative ideas for improving the business?
What methods does the leadership use to obtain these ideas?
How does the company identify, mitigate and manage key risks?
Does the company support and employ alternate dispute resolution practices?
Does the company pursue appropriate insurance recovery of environmental remediation costs?
How does leadership monitor changes in legal precedent affecting the company?
What are the most significant legal developments and issues?
Senior executives do not necessarily need to understand the minutiae of IT.
For example, consider the following questions when reviewing proposals from project teams:
How does this proposed project help the organization achieve its objectives? Why should we invest in this? An IT project should either add value or reduce risk.
Is the project's objective measurable? If it isn't, how will you know that the project is done and/or successful?
Who was involved with creating the proposed solution? Did the project team involve the right people to truly create a solution?
Is this project dependent on any other projects? What risks are associated with this dependency and how will the team manage them? Sometimes a hidden dependency can doom a project before it has even started.
Did finance review the money side? Do they approve of the project?
What are the risks associated with this project? Any project carries with it some degree of risk. Did the project team formally consider all of the risks and come up with mitigating controls in alignment with the organization's risk appetite?
What if this project fails? This key question should be part of the above-mentioned risk management plan. Should this project fail, will the firm be none-the-worse-for-wear, worse off, better off, or some combination thereof?
Who reviewed the technical aspects of the proposal for issues like standardization, capacity and database design? Did they approve? The goal is to avoid surprises, such as finding out that a project in one area requires resources that are constrained in another.
Who reviewed the process aspects? Did they approve? For a successful outcome, any project must assess the impacts not just on technology, but also on people and processes. Can the organization support any changes?
Who reviewed the human, or HR, aspects? Did they approve? Again, successful projects rely on people, processes and technology. Can the people support the project? Do they have the right skills? Will there be a political impediment?
Who reviewed the project plan? At the heart of all this is sound project management. A formal plan should exist following a methodology approved by the organization.
Who reviewed the IT security aspects? All too often, security is brought in at the end of the project. IT security should be involved from the start to identify any risks that need to be addressed.
Did the sponsor and stakeholders formally approve the project? For the sake of accountability, require that the project sponsor and stakeholders sign off on the project. This is to ensure that the objectives, requirements, risks and expenses are clearly understood. This is done to avoid the useless blame-game that happens when problems arise. It also will send a clear message that proper planning, communication and demonstrable results are mandatory.