My advice to anyone who is dealing with challenges, in their personal or business lives, is to channel positivity. Don’t let negativity win. Maintaining positivity does take focus and attention though; it’s not easy.
Keeping a positive attitude does not “happen by accident,” says Author and Doctor, Travis Bradberry. “Maintaining positivity is a daily challenge that requires focus and attention. You must be intentional about staying positive if you're going to overcome the brain's tendency to focus on threats.”
I pride myself in being a positive person, so when a friend and colleague sent me the above quotation and said “I saw this and thought of you”, it genuinely made me smile. It was particularly heart warming, because the colleague, who I now consider a friend, and I met, when we both worked on a distinctly challenging project together. My role on the project was a Business Analyst, and she was a Stakeholder.
Let me paint you a picture of the challenges….
Overloaded stakeholders - Stakeholders are key to every project, and this project had the best; hard working, knowledgeable, dedicated, and a genuinely nice, friendly group of people. We had a great working relationship, but they were vastly overloaded. Their ‘day jobs’ were very intense, then I would come along and would need to speak to them about requirements, testing, processes and document sign off… I had to be mindful of their business-as-usual responsibilities, and would work with each individual Stakeholder to ensure we worked together in the most effective way.
Poorly performing Suppliers - External Suppliers were engaged to provide IT solutions for the project. Unfortunately, there were issues with some of the Suppliers in terms of the quality and timeliness of their deliverables. This impacted on the project and made it difficult for the Project Manager to plan. It also impacted on the Stakeholders who had to repeat their User Acceptance Testing multiple times; the last thing they had time for!
Inter-Departmental Challenges - The organisation had very separate IT and business departments and structures (as is the case in most Companies). The relationship between the departments had to be managed carefully. Clear and transparent communication, and consistent and comprehensive documentation, was the best way to overcome the challenges the Project faced.
Evolving Requirements - A different Business Analyst had documented the requirements for one particularly challenging work stream within the Project. For a whole host of reasons, the time between the requirements being gathered and the Supplier completing their development, was significantly longer than it should’ve been. The business was evolving quickly, and as a result, the requirements were fast becoming out of date. This led to change requests and additional discussions with the Supplier about items that were in/out of scope. The original Business Analyst had left by this point, so there was a lot of time spent with Stakeholders unpicking requirements and providing additional detail to the Supplier. Again, more impact on the Stakeholders...
Economic/Market Challenges & Demands - The Project came at a time when the market and economy were experiencing a number of challenges and demands. This impacted on the intensity of the business-as-usual. Each department in the business was continually evolving and adapting in order to ride the waves that were coming their way.
So as you can probably gather, it was a project full of challenges, which could’ve quite easily escalated into a tangle of negativity. I was conscious of doing everything to keep the stakeholders engaged and the project on track, and the way I did this was to stay positive. As Dr Travis Bradberry said, it required focus and attention. I had to be intentional about staying positive. I took each challenge as it came along and worked out the best way to address it.
My advice to anyone who is dealing with challenges, in their personal or business lives, is to channel positivity. Don’t let negativity win. Maintaining positivity does take focus and attention though; it’s not easy. "You have to be intentional about staying positive if you’re going to overcome the brain’s tendency to focus on threats.” Take each challenge as it comes. Take yourself away from the situation, and assess the options. Physically move away from your desk, go for a walk, make a cup of tea or coffee, and smile….yes really…! Never under estimate the power of a smile….!