The 6 p’s: a framework for starting any new project
If you’re a professional within the oil and gas industry, you’re likely to have seen the rising number of discussions around the skills shortage and talent gap. Alongside important measures like incorporating proper succession planning and mentorship programmes, it’s clear the industry needs to work together to ensure knowledge and strategies are passed down to the younger generation.
Some of our younger industry contacts feel that one area they would benefit from having more training in, is around managing new projects – especially at a time when younger employees are often taking on higher level projects earlier than their predecessors have done.
So today we’d like to help with this. Over the years we’ve worked with prominent senior leaders who’ve tackled new projects in various ways. In this article we’re sharing a framework adapted from both the leaders we’ve dealt with and award-winning author Jonathan fields. This method is particularly useful for younger employees to give them a clear framework for tackling any new project.
The 6 p’s: A framework for starting any new project (and making it a success!)
It may seem an obvious start, but understanding the real purpose behind your new project is an important first step in making it a success.
It’s not enough to simply say ‘I’m doing this because of X’, since this is too top level. Instead, we can use the ‘why x 3’ approach – a method that helps you to really understand the root cause behind why you want to do a project.
Example: A young professional in the oil industry has decided to start a new knowledge share program in her department. She plans to invite employees from outside of her team to a 30-minute talk once a month, detailing what the department has been working on.
Using the ‘why x 3’ approach she may say:
Top level: ‘I’m doing this because I want to share knowledge with the rest of the company, so they can see what our team are working on’
Why(1): ‘ Because then they can learn and understand new things from our department’
Why(2): ‘Because this may improve our company!’
Why(3): ‘Because having this extended knowledge will not only help them to work better with our team, but it may also spark new ideas within their own work/department, which could lead to new innovations and efficiencies in the company’.
You can see the clear difference between the top level answer and the why(3) answer – which makes a much more compelling case and outlines clearly the mission behind the project, which the employee can now keep front of mind.
The next step is planning. Once you have an initial overview of the project plan, it’s useful to ask yourself the following questions:
• Does the plan match the realities of your working week? If this project requires putting in some extra hours outside of your normal working day for example, think about where you have allocated this time and how realistic this is. Remember that what works for some people within your team may not work for you – so make sure you’ve tailored the plan to your own capabilities. This is a good way of making sure you’re not setting yourself up to fail early on!
• Can you break project tasks down into microsteps? Just like starting a new diet plan is difficult, big disruptive changes are harder to carry through than incremental, smaller changes. Splitting tasks down into microsteps will therefore help you ease into a new project.
• What other obstacles are you likely to incur? Don’t think of this as focusing on negatives, you’re simply strategically thinking ahead so you’re prepared for any challenges you may face and have a plan of action should these challenges arise throughout the project.
• How much time and effort is needed for this project?
Once you’ve broken the project plan down into microsteps, you should be able to attribute hours needed and effort level for each. Having this clearly outlined will help you to understand if this is something you definitely want to go ahead with. Maybe after detailing the plan you realise the amount of effort and time needed isn’t actually worth the outcome, and you may decide there’s a better way of achieving what you want. Better to realise this now than half way through the project!
Ask yourself the simple question – do you think this plan has the potential to succeed?
If your answer is leaning more towards ‘no’, then don’t continue until you feel more confident in it.
Going into a project without the belief you can actually achieve what you’re setting out to do is generally not a recipe for success! If you’re unsure, then make sure you’ve mapped out all the potential obstacles and how you can conquer these. Then start the project with a positive, success-driven mindset. Believe you can achieve, for a better chance of hitting your goal.
Who do you need to make this plan a success? You may have covered some of this in the planning stage in terms of who will action some of the project steps, but there are also 3 key groups of people whose support will be useful to aid you in meeting your goals. These people are:
• The champions. Connect with people who are trying to achieve the same, or similar things as you are – so you can share the challenge together and champion each other on for success.
This is why networking is important, so that you build a community of connections (even outside of your current company). A great way of achieving this, especially for young employees, is through joining and volunteering at industry organisations. If you’ve seen any of our interviews with the rising stars in the Pipeline market, you’ll know how useful being part of a wider organisation is for career development. As Young Pipeline Association of Canada President, Tran Mah-Paulson, puts it in his recent interview with ABN Resource ’All of this additional experience has allowed me to develop my business skills, whilst helping me to understand further how the industry works together.’.
Once you have your champions, organise a group whatsapp chat, weekly conference call or even organise small meetups so you can regularly encourage each other and share ideas on what’s worked well and what has not.
• The accountants. By accountants, we don’t mean the kind who will help you with your tax. We mean those who will hold you fully accountable for your progress and meeting your project goals. Find one or two people who you can assign this role too and pledge to them what you intend to achieve. Accountants aren’t there to tell you what a good job you’re doing (like the champions are) they’re there to challenge you when you don’t meet project deadlines, and should be asking questions like ‘you said you were going to do X, X and X this month but you haven’t, let’s talk about why.’
• The mentors. The mentors are those who’ve been there before, likely senior members of your company or organisations you’re part of. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek out advice from these people, as they only strengthen your position.
In order to keep your motivation levels up to continue the new project, it’s important you see progress along the way. This means progress tracking – setting specific goals within your microsteps and keeping a record of which goals have been completed, so you can refer back (preferably on a weekly basis) to see what you’ve achieved so far.
We tend to see the negatives very clearly (the ‘negativity bias’) whilst the positives seem to fade into the background. So, whilst it’s important to be mindful of areas you need to improve on, it also helps to keep the achievements in front of mind too, to aid in your motivation.
Practice incorporating this project into your week by forming specific habits around it. This is a useful way of helping you achieve your goals since it doesn’t take long for these habits to become automatic rituals in your week or working day.
An example could be spending 30 minutes on your project each time you get back from your lunch break, or having a rule that you don’t leave the office each day until you’ve ticked off one microstep from your project plan. Once you start practising your chosen habits, they will become second nature – so your project is more likely to make progress faster.
Thanks for reading our project framework. We’ve created a document worksheet with this framework on, which you can use for your young employees, or anyone who would benefit from trying this approach – just click the button below to download this.
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If the skills shortage in oil and gas is effecting your company, then get in touch with our recruitment advisors now about succession planning and finding the best young talent in the industry. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or request a call back below.