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Taking Action

What Stops You Taking Action, Even When You Know You Need To?

(January 2009 Newsletter)


How was your break? It’s been great for me to stop and do nothing for a while over the Christmas and New Year holidays!


2008 was a whirlwind year for Making Projects Work, with:


  • business growth (subscriber numbers up 600%, turnover doubled, two new streams: Conference Calls Made Easy and, along with Vanessa Randle, Graphics Made Easy.)
  • new open courses (Graphics Made Easy starter workshop and Save 3 1/4 Hours of Your Time: Facilitation for Project Professionals) all with rave reviews: 100% of the people we asked said they’d recommend the course to a colleague.
  • publishing a graphics e-book with Vanessa, with sales from the UK to Australia; chairing the Project Management Insitute’s UK conference; speaking at conferences, professional associations and companies.
  • a growing customer list of blue chip companies, top universities and charities for speaking, facilitating, consulting and in-house courses.


A New Year Gift – Effective Conference Calls

Last November, I presented at the APM conference. I recorded the talk and, as I know that most subscribers couldn’t make it, I’ve turned it into something you can download, complete with pictures and graphics.


What about You?


As we go into 2009, I know that many readers are facing travel bans, budgets being cut, and uncertainty everywhere. This year, I’m planning to support you to be more effective in this new environment.


Please let me know the things you’d like to see from Making Projects Work that we are NOT already providing – that would help us to support you in 2009.


Here are some questions for you:


Do you always do the things you plan to do?
Can you get others to take action too?


iStock_small arrow.jpg

These are fundamental skills for us project professionals. Our ability to take action and to encourage others to take action can make the difference between success and failure. Today’s article is all about what stops people taking action and what you can do about it.


What Stops You Taking Action, Even When You Know You Need To?


Set aside a couple of minutes to have a go at this one. All you need is a pen or pencil and some paper. Draw a circle on your piece of paper. Divide it into three equal segments. Label each segment with one of these headings:

Take one segment at a time. Write down anything that blocks you taking action: things that you are lacking, things that you are fearful about and anything else.

For me, some of these were:
FEAR OF rejection, losing ‘face’, failure;
LACK OF time, being held to account, follow up;
OTHER distractions, other work, acting like a whirling dervish (!);


What can you use to help yourself take action?


Now, around the outside of the circle, write down the things that you can use to help overcome these blocks to action.

For me, being held to account is something I don’t get as much now that I’m my own boss.  In 2008 I took on a business coach to help me; she’s Zoe Elgood and our agreed action lists keep me focused.


Fear of failure is another. I’ve got past that by just doing things anyway! I’ve also spent time learning from others who have already achieved my goals, such as using the internet to reach a much wider audience.


So which of yours will you tackle this year, in 2009, to make sure that you take action? Whether it’s New Year Resolutions or your objectives agreed with your boss, actions will make a big difference!


Try the action circle technique with your team


I learned this technique of drawing a circle and looking at those three headings: FEAR OF, LACK OF and OTHER from Tim Mortimer. He’s a Making Projects Work associate who does amazing work as an executive coach. He took all of us through the action circle and we built up a really full picture. To be quite honest, it’s surprising that anyone gets anything done with those blocks!


We did this on the ‘Save 3 1/4 Hours: Facilitation Skills for Project Professionals” course too. You can see the results here:

Action Circle from Save 3 Hours Course.jpg


If you can, run the action circle with your project team or other groups that you work with. Use the insights you gain to understand your project team, stakeholders and even bosses. In the current climate, many of these blocks will be stronger than usual, and people may need your help and encouragement to overcome them. With more travel bans and fewer face to face meetings, understanding how to get people to take action will get you a long way.


All the best for your projects, and wishing you a fabulous 2009!




Penny Pullan
+44 (0)1509 821691

PS To find out more about last month’s Save 3 1/4 Hours of Your Time course in Leicester, have a look here.



© 2009 Making Projects Work Ltd., All rights reserved. You are free to use material from this Making Projects Work newsletter in whole or in part, as long as you include this attribution, including a
live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear.
“By Penny Pullan of Making Projects Work Ltd. Please visit our web site at www.makingprojectswork.co.uk.”