To conclude this little miniseries of blog posts, I want to leave you with two final pieces of advice, one practical, one philosophical. Without a doubt we need philosophy to get through life’s challenges. It can make the difference between suffering needlessly or taking it all in stride (maybe even laughing good-naturedly) when things don’t always go our way. Wrapping it all up involves both planning and patience.
Here is the practical advice: As you’re wrapping up your project, you will want to do a detailed assessment of what you still need to do. It may feel like you are almost at the finish line – because you are. But don’t put up your feet and rest just yet! Give this last push everything you’ve got.
Anything not yet completed — or not completed to the agreed upon standard — you must resolve at this point by creating a punch list with all the tradespeople and teams involved. You will walk through the entire project and write down every single thing you see that needs attention, even if you already have verbal assurance that it will be done. Leave nothing to chance. You can then identify which person has responsibility for each item on your list. Your punch list will make a huge difference in how the final product is executed. With so much going on, and with so many people involved, you can’t expect to just remember it all. And don’t count on anyone else to remember it for you.
Murphy’s Law may not sound like particularly philosophical advice, but it illustrates in such a simple way how our mindset can help or hurt us. This isn’t about pessimism, but about preparing for anything. No, every single thing won’t go wrong, but in a complex process with many moving parts, it is statistically certain that at least a few things will. Project management requires checking in regularly and navigating situations you won’t have anticipated, not just because you may be new to this, but because no one can anticipate everything.
I personally love construction because there are so many unknown factors and I like the challenge. At some point it always comes down to problem solving. Going into a project expecting nothing to go wrong is a recipe for disappointment. I always go in knowing something will go wrong but not yet knowing what it will be. Despite your best efforts, miscommunications can still occur. Or there may be variables outside anyone’s control (like the current global slowdown for shipping).
I prefer to be a realist rather than sugarcoat the situation. If someone tells you that something will take a day or two, I suggest you not get attached to the concept of “a day,” but expect it to take two days, if not longer. Err on the side of the big estimate, whatever that is.
If you remember nothing else, remember this: Don’t make decisions based on assumptions, but on reality. If you approach this with a critical mind, ask every question you can, and leave nothing to chance, there’s no reason you can’t carry out your vision with success!