School leadership often boils down into two activities: having conversations and project management. My experience as a school leader was certainly like this. There was always another conversation to be had, another task to complete, another big project or event to lead.
We have talked at length about having hard conversations. Today, I want to explore your mindset regarding project management. From planning special events to coordinating professional development, you likely have a lot of projects on your plate every year.
With every project comes a thousand decisions to make and tiny details to iron out. You could spend forever contemplating options and organizing everything down to the last detail. If you are a person who finds yourself overwhelmed with too much to do, this might have to do with your project management mindset.
I encourage you to adopt a new project management mantra: “Done is better than perfect.”
This type of thinking comes easy for some people, but not for most of the Type A school leaders I’ve met. Obsessing over details is a full-time hobby for some folks! Letting go of perfection is not only a relief, it is a great way to open yourself up for growth.
Recently, I’ve learned the power of this mantra by founding a tech startup.
I’ve spent the last eighteen months swimming with the sharks in the tech startup world. “Done is better than perfect” is a mantra for startups. The point is to get the idea out into the world and then pay close attention to how people respond and the feedback they share. Learn. Adapt. Grow.
In March of 2017, my startup company publicly launched after more than a year of work. MontessoriMatch.com was birthed into the world. People were really excited about an app that does matchmaking for Montessori teachers and schools. They were so excited, in fact, that our users crashed the site.
As of the writing of this blog post, we are using the data from that crash to completely rebuild the site from the ground up. We’ve dug in and identified all of the places where the programming failed and we’re rewriting the code. Many wonderful souls also reached out with feedback about the site and told us what they want from it and what they didn’t like about the first version.
While building a website and then having it crash was embarrassing, I saw it as a tool for growth because of how much we learned by introducing our product to our customer and observing. It wasn’t perfect, but it was done enough for people to log on and use it. This is exactly how Dr. Montessori developed and tested classroom materials.
In the startup world this is called your MVP or Minimum Viable Product. Put it out there. Test it. Try to break it. Listen to your customers. Improve it. Re-launch it. Test it. Repeat. This way of approaching projects is about learning and growing in a messy, adaptive environment. To me, it is a very “Montessori” way of doing things.
When we re-launch MontessoriMatch.com this summer, it is going to be better suited to our users. We will listen and keep adapting while trying to offer the best service we can. There won’t be any expectation that it will be perfect, and that will be okay.
As you consider the projects you will be tackling during the school year, consider this mantra. Release the need for perfection. Set up systems for getting feedback from parents and teachers. See if you might lessen the burden of project management by lightening the emotional load.
Also, consider what you can delegate. It won’t be perfect and it won’t be done the exact way you would do it, but it will probably get done. Give your team the chance to take ownership and see if you can learn from them by observing the way they do it.
With your next project, give yourself a little grace and don’t sweat all the details!
My favorite trick for successfully managing a big project is reflection and planning. Every week I take the time to do a reflection on the past week and make a plan for the coming week. I always know exactly what I need to do every week in order to keep the project moving forward. Use my free tools to help you make your plan!
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