Your mom has always told you "It's the thought that counts," but unfortunately you can't buy thoughtfulness at Target. You can however buy a collection of inexpensive items, a 99-cent card, some decent gift wrap and become renown for your thoughtfulness.
We like to think that our processes here at ZURB can be applied to almost anything in life. Our project management philosophy is an especially good fit for gift giving. It consists of three simple steps:
- Tell me
- Show me
- Tell me what you showed me
This is where the 99-cent card comes in. We all understand that with gifts need to come cards, and within cards needs to be scribbled some generic message. Maybe "Wishing you the best," or perhaps you skip the message all together and go straight to "Love Peter, Paul and Ringo the Dog." The card is where the most opportunity is to properly setup your gift and deliver maximum thoughtfulness.In your card describe why you choose the gift and allude to some hurdles (fictional or real) you had to overcome to acquire it. It's OK to give hints as to what the gift is, but try to refrain from stating it explicitly.
Dear Leia, I know how much you love plants and I went to dozens of boutique garden stores before finding the absolutely perfect one for you. It reminds me of that lovely time we had at the french bistro last summer. I sincerely hope you enjoy it, Han Solo
Picking the perfect gift is straight forward if you stay focused on the message you will write in the card. If you're out shopping at Walmart and have doubts about your mother enjoying the bucket of laundry soap you're holding, think through what the card would say.
Mom, I was frantically looking for a gift two hours before your birthday party and remembered how much you like doing the laundry for me and the rest of the family. I hope it does not give us all a rash like the last bucket of discount detergent we tried. Doug
Venturing out to your local mall without a plan is like being dropped into the middle of the jungle with a Nerf gun and a pair of safety scissors. MacGyver would make it out alive, but you won't. Use your card as your guide to keep you on task and on message.
Tell me what you showed me
After your gift has been opened make sure to follow up with the recipient. You are going to reiterate all the points you laid out in card to ensure the full extent of your thoughtfulness has been expressed. A typical conversation may go something like this:
Hey Meredith, did you like the Firefly box set that I bought you? I know how much you love Dollhouse and wanted to see some of Joss Whedon's other shows. It was a bit of a pain to find it during the holiday season but I knew you would really enjoy it.
Applied to Project Management
So how does this work for project management? Substitute the card for an email, the gift for the deliverable, and the follow up for a ... well that part is the same.
You may need to rinse and repeat a few times for larger projects but the core principle stays the same. For everything you deliver you need to be able to tell me, show me, and tell me what you showed me. Happy holidays.