8 Truths About Gantt Charts that Every PM Should Know

Project management as a sphere is pacing rapidly. According to the Project Management Institute,  by 2027 almost 90 million individuals will be in demand for new project management-oriented roles. It means that the global economy will become more project-oriented and even some traditionally not projects-oriented industries like healthcare or professional services will focus on project management roles too.

To manage projects effectively, managers have to possess a combination of certain skills, personal as well as professional. Also, managers need to have a good command of special tools. A Gantt chart is one of them. Visualization makes it an effective solution for all those who deal with projects. As a chart has a descending Work Breakdown Structure, it is easy to follow the progress of a project and be aware of upcoming events.

What advantages does a Gantt chart have?

Gantt charts successfully found their niche in project management software. Lots of project planning tools rely on this bar chart. Among them are giants like MS Project and Smartsheet, their modern and affordable competitors like GanttPRO and many others used on a daily basis in professional spheres and for personal needs. You can even build a Gantt chart in the popular and commonly known Excel, though it requires time and efforts.

Now let’s speak about the truths about Gantt charts that every project manager should know. They can bring the described advantages to almost any project and improve execution.

  1. Process organization

In most cases, projects lack efficient organization as they consist of dozens of tasks and involve multiple team members. With a Gantt chart, there are more possibilities to organize an efficient work process.

To start with, it helps to define all the tasks from the very beginning and think over every assignment before a project even begins. To get a successful project, it is better to create groups of tasks and subtasks that form them. As a result, project managers get a clearly defined structure on a visually appealing Gantt chart timeline.

  1. Time management and planning

As projects very often consist of dependent tasks, it gets difficult to realize how much time each assignment will take. There is no clarity on the start and end dates. Notably, this is the case of complicated projects with multiple team members.

Thanks to two axes visualization, each task in a Gantt chart has clear time and deadlines indicators. Most online Gantt chart makers allow setting start and end dates right away. In addition, they are accompanied by calendars what makes project management more productive.

In case you cannot create a chart, you can manually build a checklist following these simple steps.

  1. Focus on current tasks and progress

It is crucial not to lose the project pace. Having no clues about the progress of the project and personal tasks, a team member can lose not only the status but interest as well.

With planned actions, steps, and events right in front of them on the screen, participants can keep track of tasks and current progress as well as realize how much work is expecting ahead.

  1. Identification of critical points and risk management

Gantt charts help to identify possible obstacles and critical points beforehand. Thanks to a clear visualization, managers will be aware of any delayed dates or frozen progress.

Elimination of problematic issues at the early stages will prevent projects from situations that may endanger its healthy state.

  1. Communication and collaboration

Projects do not exist in the vacuum. They include managers and team members. The more efficient communication and cooperation they will have, the more successful their project will be. Gantt charts allow improving those processes without the necessity to switch between different tools and sending reminders.

Moreover, these bar charts can replace constant meetings. Team members can get updates in a common workspace with tasks, dates, deadlines, dependencies, and milestones.

  1. Resource management

Resources are inherent subjects in project management. A resource is not necessarily a real team member. In 2019, you will hardly find a Gantt chart maker that does not offer the resource allocation feature. It allows managers to see who is underperforming or has too many tasks and if needed, reallocate resources.

With the proper tasks assignment and resource allocation, managers increase the chances to build rocking projects.

  1. Flexibility with multipurpose use

As twins’ behavioral patterns differ even if they grow up in an identical environment, there are no identical projects even if the same people plan it. There will always be unexpected situations, risks, and other unforeseen moments.

It underlines an important peculiarity of a Gantt chart – its flexibility. They are a good choice for a variety of professional spheres. Managers can use them for construction, software development, web design, retail, manufacture, education, professional services, product launch, and other spheres where it is possible to break down projects into smaller pieces. Gantt chart tools even offer ready-made templates to save time on planning.

  1. Milestones

Milestones are significant events in a project that have no duration. They show and indicate that a plan has reached a certain critical event and is developing as it was planned from the very beginning.

Milestones can be:

  • Start and end dates of tasks.
  • Critical points.
  • Other moments that are worth paying attention to.

Gantt charts are probably the most visualized ways to depict milestones and be aware of the right project development.

Managers can benefit a lot from using Gantt charts. Moreover, every single project manager can easily find other useful features and benefit from using them.

Are You Using This Secret Technique To Pass The PMP Exam On The First Attempt?

Walking into the PMP exam room is an experience. This is the moment you’ve worked toward for months. You’ve invested years of effort in work experience, courses and exam preparation. You have even read through the PMBOK Guide more than once. After all that work, are you ready? Only you can know the answer for sure.

However, there is one secret method that the most successful PMP exam takers to pass right away. Moreover, the best part? You don’t have to create any study resources on your own – you can leverage existing resources on the marketplace. One of the best resources to use are PMP practice tests. Once you complete a course to get your contact hours, practice tests give you the chance to check whether you have knowledge gaps.

Introducing PMP Practice Tests

Reading over PMP study materials over and over again is not enough to get ready for the exam. Why? That is a passive learning method. It does have value. It is best to supplement it with active learning techniques.

According to Queen’s University, “Rather than being a passive recipient of information, the active learner puts knowledge to use.” That’s exactly what you want to do when it comes to the PMP. After all, you should aspire to both pass the exam and make progress toward your long-term goals of becoming a better project manager.

In the short term, you need the capability of applying your knowledge to the PMP exam itself. While you will not be expected to write essays, critical thinking and problem solving using project management concepts are still vital. There are even some expectations that you use math.

Are You Ready For The Exam Environment?


When you sit at home and study the PMBOK Guide, it’s easy to become confident. You also need to check if you can apply that knowledge in an exam setting. By using a practice test, you will test your knowledge under exam-like circumstances. Specifically, can you still apply your knowledge when you have many questions to answer in a limited time frame? The best way to find out is to use a PMP practice test and make sure to give yourself limited time.


Tip: If you have been out of school for some years, your test-taking skills may be getting rough. To give yourself the best chance of passing, take care of yourself by getting a full night’s sleep before the exam and avoid cramming. Regularly studying for 30-60 minutes per day over a matter of weeks is far more effective than attempting to learn everything in a weekend.


Which PMP Practice Test Resource Should You Use?


There are many PMP practice exams on the marketplace. How do you know which one to choose? There are two criteria I recommend you use.

Do They Have A Free PMP Practice Test?

Check if the provider has a free PMP practice test so that you can experiment to see if you find it helpful. The quantity and quality of the practice exam questions provided matters. Ideally, you will want to complete 200 questions on a practice test. Why 200? That’s the current number of questions you can expect to see on the PMP exam. Regarding quality, keep track of whether or not the exam questions covers all of the knowledge areas in the PMBOK Guide.

What PMP Study Preparation Products Do They Offer?

A single free PMP practice test will probably not be enough to guarantee your success. That’s why I recommend looking for a provider that can provide a complete solution – a study course, practice questions and more. Is it possible to use study resources from multiple providers and still succeed? Sure. The only challenge is that you will be switching back and forth between different instructional methods which means your productivity will suffer.

What To Do If You Have Poor PMP Practice Test Results?

Here’s the harsh reality: you might fail the first PMP practice test you choose.
Before you give, keep the following points in mind. Studying for the PMP certification exam requires careful preparation. You need to get used to the types of questions that are used. You also need to master quite a few different formulas. Many experienced project managers struggle with the exam because it is different from the ways projects are managed at their organization.

Fortunately, you have some options to recover from failing a practice test. Let’s get started:


  • Pre-Application. If you took the practice test to see how you would perform in the exam, congratulations! You have used the practice test to detect gaps in your knowledge, and you can prepare accordingly. If you scored under 50%, I recommend giving yourself three to four months to study assuming you have about 5 hours of weekly study time. If you scored higher than that level on the practice test, you could consider a more aggressive schedule. Just remember to keep in mind your other responsibilities as you plan your exam study schedule.
  • 45-90 Days From Exam Date. As a general rule, I recommend achieving 80% or higher on a practice test as a measure of your readiness. If you are still scoring before that level, you have two options. You can either double your study efforts or reschedule the exam to a later date so that you have more time to study. In some cases, you may want to consider taking a vacation day off from work to further your studies.
  • 45 Days Or Less. At this point, you have probably been studying for some weeks or months already. For the areas where you have weakest scores, some targeted memorization work may be your best bet. If you are not a natural numbers person, you may find it helpful to memorize the formulas and other numeric data points.

The solution you choose will depend on your level of motivation and how much time you have left to study for the exam. If you have more than 30 days from your exam, stay the course by working on the knowledge areas you find most difficult.


7 Ways To Gain Your PMP Certification Faster

You know you need the PMP certification training to get that next promotion at work. However, finding the time to study isn’t easy. Then you have to face the question of which resources to leverage. Let’s cut through the complexity by looking at a few simple ways to get PMP certified faster.

1) Know Your Why For PMP Certification

Take 5 minutes to journal about why you want to pursue this certification. Is it a prerequisite for your career goals? Do you want to fill in gaps in your knowledge? Take your time here – knowing your why is essential to staying motivated during your studies. Here are some popular reasons for taking the PMP:

  • Career Advancement. As the PMP becomes a standard requirement, you may hit the ceiling on your career goals unless you earn the PMP certification.
  • Increase Your Confidence. You probably have a few techniques you use to stay organized on your projects. However, personal organization tips and tricks are not enough to manage large projects. To operate at that scale, the tools and methods covered in the PMP certification will help.
  • Maintain Competitiveness. If you skip investing in your career, you put yourself at a disadvantage. As the PMP becomes more popular in project management, it may not be optional.

Your Action Step: Take 5 minutes and write down 3-5 reasons why you are interested in earning the PMP certification.

2) Know The PMI Requirements Before You Apply

Do you know why the PMP certification is so widely respected in the market? It is challenging to obtain, and it requires considered work experience hours. Before we go any further, take the time to check if you are eligible for the certification.

Note: The PMP certification is administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). If you have a question on whether you are eligible, it is best to contact PMI directly.

  • Work Experience. The amount of work experience required for the PMP depends on whether you have a degree. Take note that the application will ask for a detailed breakdown of your experience hours (4500-7500 hours) and contact information for references. Remember that PMI can audit your application and request proof from your references.
  • Project Management Training. You must complete an accepted project management training course. Fortunately, there are many options available including intense weekend courses and online self-study courses.
  • Application. You need to complete the PMP application. Once it is approved, you will have the option to schedule your PMP exam date.
  • Exam. PMP certification exams are multiple choice tests based on the PMBOK Guide and other resources. The good news? Most major cities have several testing centers so you can choose a time that suits your schedule.

3) Leverage A Proven Study System

What was the last exam that you studied for and passed? If you are taking the PMP exam, your university years are probably a distant memory. With your career advancement goals on the line, do yourself a favor: use a proven study system. You could ask your coworkers for recommendations, but they may have taken the exam years ago in a classroom. Instead, I recommend looking for online options that fit with your schedule.

When you select a PMP certification training resource, look for the following features:

  • Practice Exam Questions. Reading PMP exam books is helpful. How do you know if you are truly learning what you read? The only way to tell is to take a practice exam. The best PMP certification training providers include practice questions so you can evaluate your knowledge.
  • Contact Hours. Under current PMI requirements, you must complete a certain amount of “contact hours” to be eligible to take the exam. Make sure the resource you choose fulfills this requirement.
  • Case Studies. If you’re like me, you can only read the PMBOK Guide so much before you ask “how does this work in practice?” That’s why I recommend looking for industry case studies in your certification training.
  • Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.). This special status quickly tells you whether or not a training provider has registered with PMI. If a PMP certification training has this status, it is a good sign you are working with a reliable provider.
  • Training Format. In essence, you have two ways to take PMP training: online or in a classroom. I used both methods when I earned my PMP certification. If I had to do it all over again with limited resources, I would focus on an online course option.

4) Discuss Your Plans With Your Manager

If you have been following along so far, you have already made some substantial progress toward earning your PMP certification. Now it is time to reach out to your stakeholders at work. To keep this simple, let’s focus on your manager. I recommend scheduling a one on one meeting with your manager to discuss your PMP goals. Ask for their advice and support in pursuing your studies.

Note: If your organization tends to fund professional development, ask your manager for funding before you pay for anything.

5) Connect With Your PMI Chapter

Studying by yourself is critical to PMP certification success. To reinforce your learning, connecting with others is helpful. If your area has a PMI chapter, I recommend joining and asking about PMP study groups. Joining an in-person study group is an excellent way to grow your network while you learn.

Resource: Visit this webpage for a list of PMI local chapters to find one located near you.

6) Commit To A Study Schedule

In my first job, I used to try to squeeze professional development into my work day. When 4 pm arrived, I would open my materials and start studying. As you might guess, this studying approach was slow and didn’t work well. That’s why I recommend you commit to a study schedule. Skip TV twice per week or cut back on a volunteer role to give yourself the study time you need.

7) Leverage Deadlines By Scheduling Your Exam Date

Until you have a specific PMP certification exam date, your study efforts will be unfocused. That’s why I recommend scheduling your exam date as soon as you can. To the degree possible, schedule your exam to avoid known holiday plans, work busy periods and so forth. Once you have a date in mind, build a high-level schedule to organize your studies.

Here is a sample three month study schedule that assumes you have about 5-10 hours per week to study:

  • Month 1. Complete your contact hours course. Read through the PMBOK Guide.
  • Month 2. Complete two or more practice exams. Focus your studies on areas where you have low scores. Attend one study group session.
  • Month 3. Write up your notes using The Feynman Technique for areas where you need to sharpen your understanding. Take more practice questions. Visit the exam location a few days in advance to confirm you know how to get there.



4 Ways To Get Your Project Management Career Back On Track This Fall

Project managers are known for their love of achievement and organization. Many project managers fail to plan one of the most important projects in their life: their project management career. That’s a huge mistake because most of us spend more of our waking hours at work than we do at home.

Jeff Allen, PMP Shares His Perspective On Earning The PMP Certification

Find out how to make the most of that time by using these four strategies to develop your career goals.

1) Search Within Your Past Job Experiences To Inform Your Next Step

Review your past job experiences and your goals to find your next step. This strategy is especially powerful once you have a few years of work experience.

Example: You loved the experience of mentoring new hires and selling the vision of new projects to management. You also have a goal to increase your income. One career path to combine these goals and strengths: start your own business focused on coaching and consulting.

Use these reflection questions:

  • What frustrated you the most about the organization’s culture (e.g., work from home, limited professional development budgets)?
  • What projects were you most proud of in this role and why?
  • How did you feel about the job on Sunday nights? If you were inconsistent low spirits every Sunday night, that’s a warning sign you’re in the wrong job.

If you find yourself liking the fundamental nature of the work (e.g., leading technology projects) but disliking the organization, it is time to look at making a change.

2) Look At The Marketplace (Not Just The Job Boards)

Your needs and interests matter but they are not the whole story when it comes to careers. As you plan the next step to grow your project management career, there are a few considerations you need to keep in mind.

  • Look At Promotion Notices. Does your company post promotion announcements to an internal website? If so, take the time to read through those notices. Specifically, look for patterns on who is promoted. For example, if you have your heart set on an executive role, you might notice that most executives have a master’s degree like an MBA and have a variety of different roles in their work history. You can then model those patterns in your career.
  • Check In With Your Network. The majority of the best, highly paid jobs and business opportunities come through your network. Unfortunately, you are probably neglecting your contacts. To gain insight from your network, set up coffee meetings with two to four people you already know. The purpose is simple: ask them for their perspective on what skills and capabilities are in demand. You will receive the best insights if you focus your efforts on managers who have made or participated in a hiring decision in the past twelve months.

If your market research tells you that certifications and credentials are critical, we’ll show you how to take the next step.

3) Enhance Your Career With Project Management Certifications

When you earn a high-value certification like the Project Management Professional (PMP), you will experience a few benefits. You will start to have greater confidence in your decisions because you can use a proven methodology. Further, Project Management Institute research suggests professionals with PMI certifications tend to earn more than those who lack the certification.

If you want to earn a certification, use the following steps to get started.

  • Choose Your Certification. While the PMP is the most project management certification, it is not the only option on the market. If you already have the PMP, you might consider pursuing another certification like the Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP).
  • Check Your Eligibility. Before you get too excited about opening new doors in your career, you need to do your research. Visit the certification organization (e.g., PMI) website and review the eligibility requirements. You may require a specific combination of professional work experience, training and exam results to obtain a certification.
  • Set Your Budget and Schedule. Once you find a relevant certification that you are qualified for, it is time to set your budget and schedule. For the PMP, I recommend setting your schedule as 12 months or less. The budget you use will depend on your circumstances, but you can probably earn the certification for less than $1,000.
  • Seek Out Support. There are two places you can seek support. First, ask your manager if you can apply for funding for certification expenses and time to study. Second, ask for your family’s support and understanding as you take the time to study for the exam.

Now you might be asking yourself “how am I supposed to find time for all this when I already have a day job?” Let’s cover that challenge in the next section.

4) Start A 10% Personal Project To Get Growing

10 percent is all you need to make serious progress in your project management career. 10% of what? Let’s unpack the concept.

For the sake of discussion, assume you work a 40 hour work week. If you extend that workweek by 10% (i.e., add four hours), you will be able to make progress without driving yourself crazy.

Assuming you work a 9-5 schedule, here are a few ways you can add 4 hours to your program.

  • The Morning Warrior. Set aside 1 hour in the morning on Monday-Thursday and work on your career. This approach works well if you are studying for a certification.
  • The Networking Strategist. Start scheduling two lunches and a few coffee meetings each week to grow your network. For the best results, include existing contacts and people you want to meet.
  • Leverage The Weekend. If your workweek is too chaotic, look at your weekends differently. When I studied for the PMP exam, I set aside time on weekend mornings to do practice PMP exams. The strategy worked well for me because it gave me uninterrupted time to do full practice exams.

Resource: Interested in starting your own project management business on the side? Check out The 10% Entrepreneur by Patrick McGinnis for advice on how to apply the 10% concept to starting a business.

Are four hours per week enough to achieve all of your career goals? Only you can tell for sure. If you want to make progress faster, you may need to set aside more time. This approach will be enough to get you going.

Preparing for CompTIA Security+ Certification Exam

Note: This is a sponsored post relating to the CompTIA Security+ certification. While I haven’t earned this certification myself, the cybersecurity industry is growing rapidly and it is worthwhile to learn more about the industry.

What is CompTIA Security+?

CompTIA Security+ is a well-known certification that is provided to individuals who possess the baseline skills required to perform some of the core security functions. The certificate is ideal for individuals who want to pursue a career in IT security. Some of the key highlights related to the CompTIA Security+ credential are the following:

  • There is no other certification in the market that asks the candidates performance-based questions in the exam. The test for the certification checks practical skills which may be needed to solve different IT related problems.
  • The certification pays attention to the latest techniques and trends in risk management, intrusion detection, threat management, and risk mitigation.
  • It also focuses on the job roles of Junior IT Auditors, Security Administrators, Systems Administrators, and Network Administrators.

Exam details of CompTIA Security+

If you are an IT professional, then CompTIA Security+ is one of the first certifications that you should get to enhance your career. The certificate encompasses all the main aspects of theory and practice which are mandatory for any kind of cybersecurity role. It also provides a springboard to cybersecurity jobs which are of an intermediate level in nature. The main aim of the certification is to teach individuals how to solve various security problems skillfully. The CompTIA Security+ certification is ISO compliant and is a genuine credential which many IT professionals have already earned.

Seven tips to prepare for the CompTIA Security+ exam

CompTIA Security+ is an acclaimed certification which is awarded to you once you clear an exam comprising of multiple-choice questions. There are many people who fail to clear this exam just because they take it too casually. To pass this certification test, you need to work hard. There are many ways through which you can prepare for the exam, and some of them have been discussed in the following sections:

1. Purchase a study guide

If you want to successfully pass the CompTIA Security+ exam, then you need to get your hands on a proper study guide. There are many professional study guides that are available in the market. Apart from different bookstores, you can also purchase or find them online. The majority of popular online bookstores like Amazon.com have many study guides available. This guide may seem like an expensive option for sure, but if you are really serious about securing high marks, then you need to purchase a study guide at the earliest.

2. Assessment

The first thing that you need to do after purchasing a study guide is to attempt to pass an assessment exam which is usually given at the beginning of such books. There are many practice test questions in the assessment which you can solve. It is recommended that you should not mark the book while answering the questions, it is better that you should write the answers on the piece of paper. Writing the answers on the piece of paper will help you in solving the questions again after a few days. If you wish you can purchase the practice test questions online as well.

3. Discount voucher

It is highly recommended that once you are done with the assessment test, you schedule your exam for the next 30 days. Various websites offer discount vouchers which will give you a 10% discount on any CompTIA tests. Such vouchers are not always available, so if you stumble upon one, take full advantage of it.

4. Studies

You need to study hard if you want to get this certification. Ideally, you should go through half a chapter in 4 days. Once you have read a chapter, it is recommended that you go through the review topics as well. After reviewing, you should solve at least 100 practice questions from the chapter which you have studied from websites like ExamCollection.com – CompTIA Security+ Certification Practice Test Questions Exam Dumps – SY0-501. Once you are done with the practice questions, take some to go through the explanation. You should not solve the questions just for the sake of it – ensure that your answers are not coincidental; you should know why an answer is correct or why it is not.

5. Review

Once you have studied the new material for four continuous days, dedicate at least one day for the review. If you have the time, then read the reviews of all the chapters which you have studied. Solve once again all the practice questions which you have solved previously. If you want to know more about a certain topic, then for this you can go through different blogs that are available on the Internet. Once you have revised appropriately, study the new material for the next four days.

6. Practice test

At the end of your guidebook, there must be a final screening test available which should help you prepare for the final exam. The purpose of this test is to provide you with real experience, so you need to try solving it.

7. Take the final exam

Now you are well prepared for the exam, and it is the right time for you to get the CompTIA Security+ certification. If you strictly follow the steps mentioned above, there is no force on earth which can stop you from clearing this test. Of course, initially the preparation will be a little painful for you, and sometimes you may need to forget about your recreational activities in order to study properly, but, as always, if you want to achieve something, sacrifices must be made. Once you start practicing, you will have to fight off discrepancies and disturbances. But soon you will enjoy solving difficult questions and will be ultimately prepared for the final exam. But be that it is a good option to seek some mentoring from a person who has already gained the CompTIA Security+ certificate.

How To Improve Execution

3 Project Management Traps To Guard Against

From digital transformation to Elon Musk’s vision to travel to Mars, a lack of vision is no longer the problem for corporate executives. Today, the real problem is execution. In many cases, the execution burden falls on the shoulders of project managers. Unfortunately, many executives are unsure how to manage their projects and project managers effectively.

Unfortunately, a majority of executives are dropping the ball in sponsoring projects. A KPMG survey reported by the Project Management Institute found that 68% of companies lack effective project sponsors. Executives are preoccupied with their “day job” responsibilities and often neglect project work as a secondary priority.

These skill gaps in project management translate into bottom line impact. Recent research from the Project Management Institute finds that: “Organizations are wasting an average of $97 million for every $1 billion invested, due to poor project performance.”

Typically, project managers have to corral people across the organization to ship their projects. Further, most project managers do not have any staff permanently assigned to them for support. Therefore, your project managers rely on executive support to break through barriers.

If you’re managing a critical initiative for your enterprise this year, use these strategies to guide your project managers to success. Let’s take a look inside the inner psychology that sometimes holds project managers back from success.

Trap 1: Drowning In Project Management Process

Project managers are known for their adherence to best practices – schedules, project charters, meetings and governance. Those processes add value insofar as they prevent important matters from being forgotten. Left unchecked by a thoughtful executive, project managers may become overly fixated on their processes.

Here are symptoms that you may have too much process:

  • Is your project manager preoccupied on “ticking the box” for the Project Management Office at the expense of project delivery?
  • Are you frustrated by jargon filled responses whenever you ask about the status of the project?

To steer your project managers away from this trap, use this strategy:

Ask your project managers what they would be most proud of reporting to the CEO about the project? That question will focus them on the right priority.

Trap 2: Your Project Managers Are Unwilling To Rock The Boat

Project managers are incentivized to develop great relationships. For the most part, that’s an excellent tendency to encourage. After all, strong relationships allow the project manager to win support from other departments. Like any strength, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

Executives know there is a time and place for conflict. For example, calling out a subject matter expert for failing to provide advice and support to a project. Or bluntly informing a vendor that you will have to pursue legal action if they fail to deliver on their contractual responsibilities. A willingness to confront people in the right way on projects is absolutely critical.

Keep an eye out for these symptoms of a “too nice” project manager:

  • Endless follow ups. If your project manager has followed up on a late task more than twice, it is time for a different approach like going up the chain of command.
  • Unexpressed frustration. If you notice your project manager becoming more frustrated in their work, ask why. They may be sitting on a problem and not bringing up for review.

Give your project managers permission to raise problems and conflict with you:

“My role is to make tough decisions in the organization. However, I rely on you to provide me with quality information – including bad news whenever it happens – to make good decisions. If you or someone on the project makes a mistake, please come to me that day.”

Trap 3 : Challenge Misleading or Overly Positive Reports

In the course of sponsoring projects, you will receive status updates and similar documents on a regular basis. Some executives look at these documents for a few minutes before the meeting and then forget all about them. That’s a missed opportunity.

Why is that cursory approach to project reports ineffective?

A quick glance means you are likely to fall victim to the “watermelon report” problem. That’s a term I learned from a top project manager at IBM. At first glance, the project appears to be “green” (i.e. no problems and on schedule). However, when you dig deeper you find the project is “red” (i.e. over budget and behind schedule) on the inside.

Use these methods to challenge the overly positive project reports and presentations:

  • What risks have changed in the past month? Have any been eliminated or grown worse? Why?
  • Are you receiving the support you need from other departments to succeed? Is there anyone you would highlight as a risk to the project or an especially valuable asset?
  • I noticed that project spending significantly increased last month compared to the plan. Why did that happen?

By following these strategies and avoiding these common project management traps, you can guard against problems and get more successful projects.

How to Solve the Biggest Project Problems With The One Thing

An Interview With Jay Papasan

The One Thing

Jay Papasan is a bestselling author that serves as vice president and executive editor at Keller Williams Realty International, the worlds largest real estate company. He is also vice president of KellerINK, co-owner of Keller Capital, and co-owner, alongside his wife Wendy, of Papasan Properties Group with Keller Williams Realty in Austin, Texas. With Gary Keller, he is co-author of, “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.”

Q: How would you define “The One Thing” concept?

A: It’s an elaboration of the 80/20 principle. The idea is to find your most effective lever to achieve the results you want. Ultimately, this is a process to find the most effective action to achieve your most important priority. I think a lot of people spend time thinking about Pareto’s principle (i.e. the 80/20 principle) but they fail to apply that thinking to their number one priority.

It’s important to be both efficient (i.e. is your action creating an impact?) and effective (i.e. is your action creating progress toward your most important priority?). The goal of our book, “The One Thing” is to help people to become more effective.

We help readers to achieve this focus by using the Focusing Question:

“What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

By narrowing your focus in this way, you’re able to make progress on what matters most. To go even further, you can connect your answer to the Focusing Question with your ultimate purpose in life.

It starts with identifying your number one priority and then looking for ways to apply your time and effort to that priority.

Q: How have you applied The One Thing concept with project managers?

A: When we were working on the book launch for “The One Thing,” I worked with a project manager. Our goal was to make the book into a million copy best selling book and reach the New York Times best seller list. To reach that goal, there were a lot of moving parts to manage.

I remember pulling our project manager aside and saying, “Hilary, you have so many One Things to think about… What do you think the true One Thing is for you as the project manager on this book launch?”

She thought about the question and replied, “At end of the day, it’s communication and accountability. It’s my job to track all of the moving parts on the project so that everybody knows what they need to do and when, then we’re on track.” In essence, her number one job was to communicate effectively to ensure accountability.

Q: I think you hit the nail on the head with accountability. I sometimes see mistakes in this area with task assignments. There’s a big difference between “Task A is assigned to the technical team” vs “Task A is assigned to Jane Smith, manager of the technical team.”

A: I love that! One of the ideas that I learned from Gary Keller, my co-author on the book, is the concept of a “driver.” When we have a project, we want to have ONE person who is uniquely responsible for that project. I think about it in these terms: who wakes up in the morning and thinks about this project? That’s the driver. Without that focus, it may not get done.

Specifics matter with accountability. I’ve seen this play out in the case of a car accident. I looked at a hundred people at staring at the scene of accident and nobody took action. Nothing happened to address the accident until a trained person – a firefighter – started to move. That person took accountability to help and that made all the difference.

You can’t hand a task to a group of people. You can only hand a task to a specific person. It’s a critical distinction.

Q: How would you apply “The One Thing” method to improving meeting productivity?

A: It comes down to clarity and priority. You probably have multiple agenda items to consider. In working with Gary Keller, I’ve learned that you need to number and order your agenda items in priority order. That way, you always start the meeting by applying your energy to the most important item. If you walk into a meeting with Gary and you’re unclear about the priorities, he will wait for you to clarify and organize your priorities. We start with number one and we don’t move on until it is done.

If you’re the third priority on the list, good luck! We will often spend most if not all of our meeting time on the number one priority. At the end of the day, I will only bring up lower level priorities if I felt there was a fiduciary duty to do so. By keeping focuses on the number one priority, you empower your people to execute the details and make good decisions.

Q: This is a welcome counter-point to the highly defined and rigid meeting agendas that some project managers use. By tradition, item one on the agenda might be “project status update” for instance. Instead, your approach would encourage us to ask, “for this specific week, what would be the most valuable topic or issue to cover in our 30 minute meeting?”

A: It’s a better question to ask. It’s also good to ask if going around the table for status updates adds value. In a way, that practice encourages accountability but it may not be the best use of time to do that in a meeting.

I’ve recently had some discussions with our CEO to explore what is our culture going to be around meetings and structure. Our organization has rapidly been expanding, so there’s a need for structure and purposeful. I think a lot of people are inefficient with their communication in email and meetings. Asking The Focusing Question and similar questions goes a long way to focusing the discussion.

Q: How do you encourage other people to buy into The One Thing approach as a leader and manager?

A: Earlier in my career, I managed a project where others had to contribute to the project but they were not ultimately accountable to me. To make that work, there’s some salesmanship and political skill required. I think you can always catch more flies with honey. Polite persistence goes a long way on projects.

It’s natural to think about your work with the question, “What’s the win for me?” To really achieve great results, you need to ask two more questions: what’s the win for the organization? and what’s the win for this person? The win may take different forms. For a large project, the win could be helping a person getting promoted. In other cases, the win might be, “You wouldn’t see me dropping by your desk each day asking about the project status.” We’ll have a good laugh at that point and move ahead.

It’s better to ask questions rather than issue orders. For example: what help do you need to get this task done or when should we meet next to discuss this project given the ultimate deadline we have to meet?

If you’re a leader and you want someone to adopt “The One Thing” philosophy, the first step is to ask them to read the book. Alternately, you could have a team meeting to summarize the book and walk people through the ideas. I usually sell the idea by pointing out that YOU can get more done, feel better about what you achieved and then go home and be with your family.

Q: What struggles do people have with adopting “The One Thing” method in their work?

A: Highly detail oriented people sometimes struggle with it because they want to complete each and every task. I’m guilty of this problem sometimes. As the project manager, you can bring clarity to the situation by saying, “This is the number one priority. I understand that you can’t do everything. So you can work on this number one priority. After that gets done, we’ll see what else we can get done.”

Unfortunately, some people will self-sabotage. They’ll bounce between email, Twitter and other activities. In those cases, that issue is really about them. In other cases, the fault lies with the project manager. If you assign too many tasks and fail to make the priorities clear, it can be a deadly recipe for detail oriented people.

When you’re focused on your priorities, you don’t have any regrets. When I go home, I turn my phone off and relax knowing that I achieved my priorities for the day.

Q: How do you manage the challenge of distractions in the workplace? These distractions can make it difficult to make progress on your One Thing.

A: It depends on your context. If you’re in a large office environment, I suggest looking for ways to work in a different location from time to time. For example, can you move to a small meeting room for an hour or two a day to work on your priorities. As a writer, my focus is generally on two core activities: research and writing. If I do those activities on a regular basis, new books will be produced. For most roles, there’s usually a small set of activities you need to master and work on each day to be successful at your work.

Once you know those core responsibilities, there’s two steps to make sure you get those done. First, you need to time block those activities. Second, you need to protect those time blocks. Research has found that if you set a specific plan – at Tuesday at 6am, I will exercise. Once you have that level of detail, you can put that activity on your calendar and protect that time. More details on the research studies on this strategy are noted in the book.

Protecting that time block is the next step. In a “cubicle farm” environment, it’s difficult. The best practice is to put that time block early in the morning. There’s usually that many 8am meetings in most companies so that’s a perfect time to schedule a time block to work on your number one priority.

Take Your Questions From Good To Great: 15 Examples

Ask Better Questions

What questions do you use most often in your work?

You may be focused on squeezing out incremental gains – how can we process 2% more transactions per day through this system? In some cases, that type of question is just right. If you’re working on a banking system that manages two million daily transactions, then incremental gains are valuable. What if your project objective is to create a brand new product? In that case, you need different questions to become more productive. Where do you get started? You need to identify your ineffective questions.

Do You Use These Bad Questions?

Here are some of the bad questions that I see come up in the working world.

1. Who’s your boss?

This is usually a sign that somebody is angry at you and wants to go over your head to lodge a complaint.

2. But how would we pay for that?

This question can be helpful but it is often used as a way to shut down discussions.

3. Couldn’t you just try harder to fix this problem?

Hard work has a role to play. However, if you systematically rely on heroic efforts to get everything done, your organization is dysfunctional.

Fundamentally, those questions don’t prompt meaningful engagement or bring new insight to the table. Now that we have those points out of the way, let’s turn to better questions.

5 Questions To Ask When You Start A Project

Starting a project on the right note is critical. How else will you be able to motivate the team to engage on the project?

1. Why are we doing this project now?

Timing matters! Asking questions like this are one way to boost your business acumen.

2. What is the history related to this project?

Learning from history is a powerful skill. Historical points to explore – are there any other past projects like this? What is the project experience of the person sponsoring the project?

3. Who is the project’s champion and why?

In most large organizations, there is ultimately a single champion, executive or manager who is accountable for the project. If piss off the VP, you’re going to be in trouble even if the project is on schedule.

4. What can I get excited about on this project?

The project team looks to you – the project manager – for leadership. What can you get excited about on the project?

5. How can I better understand the sponsor’s needs and expectations?

Start by finding out how they want to hear from you. Do they want detailed spreadsheets by email or high touch phone calls? At the start of the project, ask how they want to hear from you.

Five Questions To Ask Advice

In project work, you’re constantly doing new activities… And that means you’re probably having to figure out new applications, systems and processes. You can get better support from your peers and mentors if you ask them a few focused questions.

1. What are the most common mistakes you see beginners make?

This question is adapted from Tim Ferriss’s excellent book Tools of Titans. You can apply it to project work in all kinds of ways. For instance: “what mistakes do novices make when it comes to presenting to the management committee?”

2. What resource was most helpful to you in learning this skill?

Even if you have a great mentor, they have limited time and energy to help you. If you’re seeking advice on how to learn a complex skill (e.g. “how do I improve my public speaking skills?), seeking a resource recommendation is the way to go.

3. How can I practice this skill in a low risk fashion?

Low risk practice is essential to developing a skill. As Eduardo Briceño explains in his TED talk How to get better at the things you care about – top performers look for ways to practice and improve. For instance, highly successful comedians are known for trying out new material on small audiences. That way, they will have quality material to present to large audiences.

4. Who can I observe in action to learn how to do this?

For some skills and capabilities, it’s valuable to watch a master at work. I’ve picked up tips and tricks to use Microsoft Excel better by watching others manipulate complex spreadsheets. I’ve also learned some blog writing techniques by studying the work of other highly successful bloggers.

5. Can you give me feedback on this small task or deliverable?

Let’s say you have a presentation to the CEO tomorrow. With the right approach, this presentation has the potential to supercharge your career. For high stakes opportunities like this, ask a mentor if you can practice with them. Remember to ask them to provide feedback and suggestions. Use the Starter Feedback Model as a resource to guide the person in providing useful feedback to you.

Five Questions To Ask For Problem Solving

When you’re leading a project, there is a steady stream of problems. Use these questions to better define the problems and develop solutions.

1. Do we have the facts about this problem?

You may have a vague sense that something is wrong. That’s not enough to take action. You need to gather examples and facts before you make a move.

2. What other ways could we state the problem?

The wording you use to define or describe a problem matters. Let’s say you’re concerned with profits. One way to state the problem is “How can we cut expenses?” A better question might be to ask, “how can we earn more orders from our past customers?”

3. What other causes are at play for this problem?

When a problem occurs, it’s easy to fixate on easy to understand aspects of it. As Taylor Pearson recently wrote, we have a bias toward easy to understand problems and situations. If a problem is easy to measure with an accounting system, it’s easy to focus on financial aspects to a problem. However, fixating too soon on a single cause may lead you down the wrong path.

Resource: Read Pearson’s excellent essay The Illegible Margin: Profiting From The Gap Between The Map And The Territory for more insight on this issue.

4. How could we solve this problem if we have no money available?

Many project problems are easy to solve when you simply spend more money on them. On the other hand, that approach sometimes encourages lazy thinking. Use this question to search for other solutions. For example, rather than hiring an external consultant, could you call 20 people at your company and ask if anyone knows a developer who can help you?

5. What other mental models can we use to solve this problem?

Mental models describe the assumptions, ideas and related concepts we use to look at the world. As James Clear explains, having a variety of mental models available is a key way to boost your problem solving ability.

Resource: To dive further into mental models, read Creating a Latticework of Mental Models: An Introduction from the excellent Farnam Street blog.

Where Can I Learn To Ask Better Questions?

“Questions are your pickaxes. Good questions are what open people up, open new doors, and create opportunities.”

– “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers,” by Tim Ferriss

I love long form podcast interviews because they represent a special opportunity to explore a topic in depth. Here are some podcasts, articles and other resources to help you sharpen your question abilities.

Testing The “Impossible”: 17 Questions That Changed My Life. A powerful article from Tim Ferriss (one of my favorite authors). My favorite question: “What if I did the opposite for 48 hours?”

The 21 Questions I’m Asking Myself This Week. Business writer and consultant Ed Gandia uses a list of questions to reflect on his business and plan next steps.

EconTalk. This long running podcast features in-depth interviews with authors and economists. It’s a great example of how questions and conversation lead to greater insight.

How to Ask Better Questions by Judith Ross. This HBR article focuses on questions from the perspective of managing people.

The Quest to Ask Better Questions. The article puts it simply and well – “Questions are sometimes better than answers”


Cut, Cut, Cut: Elimination Strategies To Boost Productivity


Elimination is an underrated productivity strategy we all need to practice. It’s one of the best ways to eliminate that “crazy busy” feeling that make the week feel like a long slog.

If elimination is such a great strategy, why isn’t it more popular? There’s a few reasons to consider. First, cultural pressure starting in high school (I have to be well rounded to get into college/university with top grades and “extra-curricular activities”!) stresses adding activities as the path to success. Second, you have “people pleasing” behavior: many of us like to make others feel happy by saying yes to new requests. How do we overcome this scenario?

Elimination Fueled Productivity For Individuals

Becoming more productive through elimination is rewarding once you get started. Before you start the elimination process, you need a positive aim.

1. Identify Your #1 Goal

What are you making room for with elimination? To get started, identify your number one goal. You may have multiple goals for the year (I have 10 for 2017). In that case, I encourage you to use the question from “The One Thing” book (see further reading for details).

One Thing Question:

What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

Tip: Do several of your other goals require money (e.g. contribute to investment accounts, take courses, travel)? In that case, your #1 goal will likely involve earning more money.

2. Brainstorm An Elimination List of 10 Ideas

Now that you have a clear goal in mind, it is time to come up with elimination ideas. The focus is on volume, rather than quality. Here are examples that I recently came up with:

1. Unsubscribe from email lists that no longer interest me (use Unroll.me – I recently cut 50+ no longer relevant email subscriptions from my inbox)

2. Throw away 5 items of old clothing that is worn out (makes it easier to assess clothing options)

3. Review current subscriptions: are there magazine subscriptions to eliminate (I find 1-2 per month goes a long way)

4. Automate one bill payment for monthly payment (e.g. my cell phone bill is currently a manual payment)

5. Review recurring meetings on my professional calendar: are there any to eliminate or consolidate?

6. Make a list of monthly reports I produce and check if the audience truly needs them (here’s how to ask that: “What would happen if I stopped delivering this report?”). This method has been a major time saver for me in the corporate world.

7. Review volunteer commitments for value and meaning. Volunteering is worthwhile… However, you need to keep such activities in the context of the rest of your life. For example, if want to deliver a project or program directly then serving on a committee may not be fulfilling.

8. Reduce digital clutter. Earlier this week, I cleaned up my office computer so that there is only one row of icons. It’s a small way to add clarity and order to your world. The same can be said of smart phone apps.

9. Job Responsibility Creep. Over time, many of us take on random “extra duties” at work. Now is the time to look at those and ask yourself if they make sense with your review. For example, maybe you are asked to serve as a subject matter expert on call to other departments but that distracts you from creating code. In that case, use the same process as point 6 above to pursue elimination.

10. Reduce social media time. Social media can be wonderful! However, these services make it easy to lose a whole afternoon (or more) in mindless clicking that does little but add anxiety to your life. If this scenario rings true for you, consider setting schedule boundaries (e.g. no social media after 6pm) to keep these tools in check.

Note: Ask yourself if you can eliminate a task or activity entirely first. If that is not feasible, consider reducing frequency or automation options.

3. Implement 1 Elimination Change Within 24 Hours

Now the rubber meets the road. It’s time to get to action. Review the list of elimination options you identified in the previous step. To get started with the process, choose the easiest one to eliminate (i.e. that takes 15 minutes or less time). If all you need to do is log into a website, this step will be easy.

If your elimination idea is more complex – killing a corporate report – you can still act. How? In 15 minutes, write up what why you want to eliminate the report, who receives it and send a calendar invitation to propose eliminating it.

4. Proactively Schedule Maker Time

Noted investor and essayist Paul Graham draws a distinction between “Manager Time” and “Maker Time” in his classic essay Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule. In project management, it’s easy to fall into the trap of allocating most or all of your energy in the “manager” mode. However, that’s not going to cut it if you want to achieve your goals.

Before you finish this article, take action to put maker time on your calendar. In my case, I recently added Maker Time for Saturdays and Sunday mornings. Why those times? I like to have long stretches of uninterrupted time and the weekends are best for that. There’s no reason you can’t make a similar block on week days.

Further Reading on Productivity & Elimination

To continue your productivity journey of elimination, explore these books and articles. Remember to keep the focus on your purpose. What will you do with the extra time and energy? Apply it to your One Thing goal! (Of course, if you’re burned out from work, rest and relaxation is a great choice as well.)

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. Do you want a book length treatment on focusing on what matters to the exclusion of all else? This is the book for you.

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results By Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. It’s one of the best productivity books I’ve read. I appreciate the care and attention the authors took with research and tactical advice. I hope that a future addition will illustrate the One Thing principle with additional examples and case studies.

How to Say “No” When It Matters Most (or “Why I’m Taking a Long ‘Startup Vacation’”) by Tim Ferriss. Long time readers will know that Tim Ferriss is an inspiration to me (a favorite Christmas present from 2016 was his newest book “Tools of Titans”). In this article, Ferriss explains why he decided to take a ‘vacation’ from startup investing. Here’s what’s most striking about that move – this investing activity is probably one of the most (i.e. 10X-100X returns in some cases) lucrative activities in his career… Yet he decided to call it quits. Read the article for the details and what led to the decision.

Stop Doing Low-Value Work. This Harvard Business Review article by Priscilla Claman defines several circumstances where you have a great opportunity to cut low value work from your plate such as during job transitions.

Things to Stop Doing in 2015. Written by Sarah Green Carmichael and Gretchen Gavett in Harvard Business Review, this article has great suggestions. Stop sitting so much is one of the tips! Fortunately, my office recently upgraded to “stand-sit” desks so I’m well on my way to less sitting.

The Most Popular Project Management Hacks Articles of 2016


A news screen at the gym informed me that there are less than 30 hours left to go in 2016! In that spirit, it’s time for me to write my final article of the year.

I’m going to revisit the most popular articles of the year. All of these articles attracted over 2,000 readers this calendar year. It’s great to see that many articles in the archives continue to attract attention including a few from 2014. I still remember the urge to create the business after reading “The Four Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss for the second time.

As I write this entry, I’m currently reading “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers” by Tim Ferriss. It’s outstanding and one of my favorite Christmas gifts.

1. 7 Habits of Highly Effective Meetings

This is my most popular blog post of all time. It lays out exactly how to get the most out of meetings as an attendee and as the chair person.

I was inspired to write the article as I reflected on a terrible corporate meeting I had one Friday afternoon that just kept going and going!

2. Project Manager Salary: 4 Key Insights To Earn $100,000 Per Year

Many readers are interested in earning more money as a project manager. This article answers tells how to put the odds in your favor to earn $100,000 per year in project management.

Here’s the bad news from the research: you are unlikely to earn over $100,000 until you have ten years of experience. What if you’re determined to get there faster? Well, read the article to find out more!

3. Conflict Management Techniques From the PMBOK Guide

What comes to mind when you think about conflict? For me, the first mental image is war. Fortunately, conflict in the workplace doesn’t take the form of bullets for most of us.

In this article, I explain the fundamental techniques for managing conflicts. As project managers, you are changing  the organization. That will upset some people! That’s why you need to develop conflict management skills.

4. 6 Steps To Successful Vendor Management

As a project manager, you will end up working with vendors many times over the course of your career. Do you know how to work with vendors effectively?

Once you read this article, you will be better equipped to avoid common vendor management mistakes like getting surprised by the use of sub-contractors.

5. How To Build A Checklist In 6 Steps

When it comes to tools and techniques, most of us think about buying a new app or some other piece of technology. That’s not always the right solution however.

The simple checklist is one of the best ways to improve quality and reduce errors. Did you know that many of the world’s best surgeons, nurses and pilots rely on checklists to avoid life threatening mistakes? It’s true!

The best news? You can build a checklist in 6 steps!

6. 51 Training Resources For Project Managers

If you have the PMP certification, you are obligated to earn PDUs. But what will you learn? What resources are available?

Read this resource to discover the wealth of resources available on the Internet. One of my favorite suggestions: #19 (the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen)

7. 10 Books To Become A Better Project Manager

You’re looking for project management books? Glad to see you. Everybody knows about the standard texts in the field like the PMBOK Guide. What do you read next to keep growing?

Dive into this list to expand your skills and horizons in the new year. “The Effective Executive” by Peter F. Drucker is a gem – you can read it multiple times and profit from the effort each time.

Tip: Your public library (especially if you live in great city like Toronto) is a great way to explore books like these for free.

8. How To Improve Quality With Standard Operating Procedures

If you have ever worked at a large company, you have probably encountered standard operating procedures. They’re often mandatory for high risk activities (e.g. working on a nuclear reactor).

Here’s the key – you can write YOUR OWN standard operating procedures. I have created several over the years to improve the quality of financial reports. I can’t recommend the practice highly enough.

9. 6 Success Principles From Elon Musk (PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors)

Reading biographies of successful people offers unique insights on the world. As a long time science fiction fan, I was delighted to learn about the struggle to build SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space company.

His thought process and determination to achieve incredible goals like settling Mars are inspiring. Learn more about the methods and mental models Musk uses to achieve his success.

Tip: Musk recommend thinking from first principles, rather than by analogy, to solve complex problems. It’s a harder path to follow because it will be unnatural for many of us but there are great merits in that approach.

10. 16 Podcasts To Grow Your Career In 2016

A recent survey I read claimed that about 1/4 of Americans listen to podcasts regularly. That means millions of people have yet to discover this incredible medium.

Are you tired of TV style “sound bite” interviews? That’s one area where podcasts shine. For example, Russ Roberts, author and economics expert, has published 60+ minute in depth interviews on his podcast EconTalk for a decade.

For details on which podcasts are best to develop your career and get you promoted, check out the article.

11. How To Develop Business Acumen

If you came up through the ranks in a technical or corporate area (technology, engineering, human resources etc), then your business acumen probably has some gaps.

In order to make understand the business decisions being made around you, use this article to develop business acumen.

News Hack: For a quick yet comprehensive briefing on what’s happening around the world, I recommend reading an issue of The Economist. It’s one of the world’s best news magazines.

12. 12 Ways To Use Email Better

To round out the list, let’s work at doing email better. Here’s one principle to start with: make clear requests.

For example, do you want somebody to approve a request? Make it crystal here: “Please approve the attached business plan” or “Please approved the attached project change request as discussed at the governance meeting.”