Four Agreements in Project Management

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Image copyright: http://seanwes.com. Used with permission.

 

The other day, I had a classic producer meltdown. As much as I pride myself on my pragmatism, this still happens every once in a while.

Everything was going perfectly. The project plan was in place, the schedule was manageable, the resources were allotted, and our client and we were aligned. Then…things changed.

Over the weekend, somehow the messaging changed, the content changed, new pages needed to be added to the website, and suddenly things felt way off course and totally out of control.

As a producer, I strive to be calm and unflappable; I immediately look for the smart solution to get out of a problem ASAP. But this time, instead of regrouping and adjusting accordingly, I resisted and fumed. I may have even stomped my feet. In my frustration, I ended up sitting on the problem for about 4 hours too long — and that is not something I want to repeat.

I was reminded of a book my client gave me in LA. — because in LA, you get books like this — called The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. Initially, I sort of quietly wrote it off as too touchy-feely for me; but out of appreciation for my client, I decided to give it a go.

In the book, author Don Miguel Ruiz proposes that four agreements in life are essential steps on a path to personal freedom.

It turns out, the principles explored in those four agreements are pretty compelling. And I couldn’t have been reminded of them at a better time. Running how I should respond to frustrating production situations (like a solid project plan going right out the door) through the filter of The Four Agreements gave me clarity and calm to get back on track.

Four Agreements in Project Management

1. Be Impeccable with Your Word. When something goes wrong or the project changes unexpectedly, don’t fly off the handle and say things that aren’t constructive. Take a moment to think before your speak. Stay reasonable, no matter what.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally. Squash toxic thoughts like, ‘My project is being sabotaged.’ This isn’t about you — the circumstances have just changed. Time to recalibrate.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions. Relax the Negative Nelly/Nick reactor — don’t let frustration tell you things can’t be negotiated and re-strategized in a way that still achieves your project goals. That’s just fear talking. Tell that guy to pipe down.

4. Always Do Your Best. No matter what is happening, you can only do your best in any given situation. The project’s end result may not be exactly what you had initially planned or expected, but no one can dispute those efforts if they are clearly your very best — not even you.

 

 

Melanie Barter

Melanie is an executive producer with a creative background in film, digital and marketing. She is originally from Toronto and has worked in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. She has been in San Francisco since 2004.

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