Make It Your Own!

Some time ago I created a train-the-trainer package for a workshop that has been delivered by someone else. This excellent material can get to a significantly larger audience if more people are able to deliver it. (Not quite the scale of Al Gore's climate change presentation, but definitely along similar lines.)

I had been looking at the existing materials, and admiring the current approach, and considering how to train people in using these materials. My initial thoughts were around the structure of the train-the-trainer workshop.

Then I remembered an old adage from my project management days at Andersen Consulting. When you inherit someone else's project plan, you should 'make it your own'. This was a common situation. For various reasons you would inherit someone else's plan. For example, one person plans the project while writing the proposal, and now you are the engagement project manager, maybe months later, depending on the length of the sales cycle. Or you might be 'parachuted in'; to rescue a project that is not going well.

Once I made a project my own, I tended to stop double-guessing the previous project manager; or constantly considering I could do it better - because it was mine now.

'Making it your own' can be done in various ways. In a project plan the most basic step is to replace the former project manager's name with your own in the document footers. It may involve changing the file name to conform to your file naming standards for the project. In MS Project it might involve changing the colour scheme on the Gantt chart.

For a more extensive job of making the project your own, and the real essence of making it your own, you need to get into the guts of the project. One person may have split the tasks up on conventional Henry Ford 'compartmentalisation of task' lines; when you prefer a 'work package' approach, so people see their part of the project through from inception to implementation. Or you might re-jig the organisation structure to establish some seniority to give opportunity to delegate leadership roles. Or you might rearrange the schedule, bringing forward some tasks and delaying others.

Back to the topic in hand, I decided that rather than simply admiring the work that has been done, I needed to 'make it my own'. To do this I:
  • Put some more structure into the Running Sheet - bigger font size, more spread out, and some colour coding.
  • Developed a 'mini-running sheet' with highlights from the more detailed version.
  • Developed PowerPoint slides to support the structure of the delivery, including some introductory stuff that may currently be spoken. So that the slides can reinforce the spoken word.
  • Created a 'look and feel' that was recognisable across all materials, including fonts, logos and other aspects of presentation.
  • Developed some basic handouts to supplement the existing materials.
  • And finally, I moved some content around.
Consider the ways you can take ownership of material you have inherited, and 'make it your own'.