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How to Kick Ass by Kicking Assumptions, by Tony Greenberg

Posted by Jonathan Greechan on 2013-04-01

Founder Feedback gives you insight from the startup trenches.

In this post from his blog, Tony Greenberg, CEO of RampRate and Los Angeles Founder Institute mentor, outlines 10 questions founders should be able to answer before embarking on a new project. He says “If you, your clients and your teammates all have the same answer to these questions, your chances of a successful, on-time project go way up.”

Below, How to Kick Ass by Kicking Assumptions has been republished;

"Some people are word people. They really like words. Me, I’m more of a deeds guy. But there is one word I really don’t like. That word is “assume.” It’s use screws up more promising projects and progress than just about anything I know. Most people have heard that old line about what “assume” does to people, using the components of the word to make the point. It’s dead on.

    Still, intuitive assumptions about behavior is only the starting point of systematic analysis, for alone they do not yield many interesting implications. Gary Becker

So, in my years-long quest to stomp “assume” out of every conversation, relationship, business deal and work project that I have, I’ve developed a list of 10 (more or less) key questions I want answered before and after every project or signpost. If you, your clients and your teammates all have the same answer to these questions, your chances of a successful, on-time project go way up. I  often apply these questions using  Basecamp, as milestones that need to be answered so a project can move forward with improved communication, workflow and expectations.

If a project will take more than a day or involves more than two people, I like to have these questions created as milestones in a Basecamp project. If you want everyone to know, add the questions as a template in your projects. When overseeing a project, I prefer to answer these questions in a conversation, but others may prefer to do it through email or some other method. Whatever works for you, but ask these questions, and get them answered. As these are basic critical thinking exercises, they take a bit more time yet the outcome is far better.

What you are doing is emulating a translation for different personality types, be in conceptual, linear  adopting or changing behaviours. This delineation is best found through simple assessments;  Team Dimensions Profile maps the flow of assigning roles, completing tasks, and handing off tasks to other team members through the “Z Process.” In this relay process, tasks are passed from Creators to Advancers, From Advancers to Refiners, and from Refiners to Executors. Flexers fill in the gaps to keep the process moving forward. http://bit.ly/Yv8q45

What to Ask When You Start

1) What are this project’s goals for the company and for me? Why was this goal created?

2) How do we measure success? Time to finish? Resources allocated? Lowest cost?

3) What factors will help the project’s successful, on-time delivery? What will hinder it?

4) What resources (people, time, money) do you suggest? Or should I figure that out myself?

5) What are the best check-in points to monitor progress toward completion?  How should we communicate with each other regarding these milestones or check-ins?

6) What will be delivered or presented at check-ins? What format would you like this task or project in?

What to Ask When You Finish

1) What are the results of the project?

2) How do those results map back to our original goals and metrics of success?

3) What was the investment of time and effort versus the budget applied?

4) How can we improve the outcome for this kind of task next time? Any lessons to be learned? I  look forward to your thoughts when experiencing this process and how you can help me make it better.

 I  invite you to improve this process, share your thoughts and ideas. Thanks."

 

For more startup insights from Tony, follow him on Twitter @RampRateTony and register for the Los Angeles Founder Institute, which is currently accepting applications for the Spring Semester.

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