While you can always wing it, or luck into success, you can use patterns and practices to find the shortcuts and make your success more repeatable. As a Principal Program Manager at Microsoft I’ve lead distributed teams around the world for more than ten years. As a Program Manager, my job is to take on big challenges, build a team of smart people, and drive projects from cradle to grave.
It also means creating work breakdown structures, project plans, resource plans, risk plans, project schedules, managing budgets, dealing with and responding to changes, reporting status, and managing stakeholder expectations. If you lack clarity in the problem you are solving, then you are most likely wasting a lot of time and effort. At the same time, I had to make sure I was creating space and allowing for things to go wrong. When you find ways to innovate in your process, you can do things better, faster, and cheaper. The people in the trenches are the closest to the problems and they are also closest to the solutions.
If you build products for customers, the short-cut to success is to have customer participate up front and throughout the process. The sooner you get folks involved and the sooner they get bought in, the sooner they have a sense of ownership.
If you get in the habit of thinking in terms of version, then you can enjoy the benefits of incremental progress. For this to work well, you have to have a culture of continuous improvement, so that you actually get a chance to revisit things that need to be improved. The reality is you don’t know what will surprise you, and you are better off putting something out there so that you can see how it holds up under actual usage. Question: What leadership practices have you found that make you and your team more productive? Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If you're like most of my readers, you're committed to winning at work and succeeding at life.
About MeI am the co-author of the Wall Street Journal and USA Today best seller, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want.

I am also the author of the New York Times best seller, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.
I am the founder and CEO of Michael Hyatt & Company, an online leadership development company.
About MeI am the author of the New York Times bestseller, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. The art part is when you use your experience and judgment to apply proven practices to the situation you are in to produce effective results. I like to think of the Program Manager role as a technical Entrepreneur with an interesting blend of customer, business, and technical perspective.
That includes everything from creating the Vision and Scope to leading the project through the initiating, planning, controlling, and closing phases. This sounds simple and it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people can run around, working on something, but have actually lost sight of the problem they set out to solve. As individuals, and as a team, we very quickly surface the bottlenecks and opportunities to improve our results.
This meant I had to ruthlessly prioritize and focus throughout the week to flow the most value. I’ve never seen a project where everything goes exactly as planned, and nothing changes. At work, he is known for working on the most valuable things and setting a great example of focus and priorities. If you love to learn, then by-golly make every expedition a chance to learn a new skill, conquer a new challenge, and add a new tool to your toolbox.
Simplicity is one of my favorite themes, and I like to find ways to simplify products and processes. And that’s how you keep from getting priced out of the market or losing your job to somebody else who is better, faster, cheaper. I heard a colleague remark the other day that too many people still operate under an old leadership model. Also, the sooner you will have a tribe of raving fans that will help you move the ball forward and champion the cause. This is a much faster path than trying to get everything figured out and get everything right up front.

You will gain clarity and insight if you look for it, and you will ultimately learn the lessons that help you improve next time. Add this as a reminder in your calendar and have it pop up daily or weekly, depending on how often you need the reminder. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. We help overwhelmed high achievers get the clarity, confidence, and tools they need to win at work and succeed at life. He is the author of Getting Results the Agile Way and blogs on personal effectiveness and leadership at Sources of Insight.
On the flip side, you can save a lot of time and energy when you know exactly what the problem is that you are trying to solve. With that in mind, it’s better to embrace the reality and design for it, and create space so you can deal with unexpected surprises. One way to see the forest for the trees and rise above the noise is to set a theme or focus for the month. Finding ways to simplify your process is actually one of the secrets to innovation and staying in the game. You can then continue to adjust your personal checklist as you go along, so that it serves you and it helps bring out your best. That's exactly why I wrote my new ebook, Shave 10 Hours Off Your Workweek: 4 Proven Strategies for Creating More Margin for the Things That Matter Most. Instead, I had to get clear on the priorities, choose the best things to work on, and spend my time more wisely.
When you focus on activities, you throw time at things, but don’t necessarily achieve meaningful results. This means having people participate in the process so they feel empowered and want to play the game. Ironically, it’s not the nature of the work, but our mental models that make work meaningful.

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