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Project Management by Email: A Fatal Assumption
By Rudolf Melik

I sent this message by email to several of my colleagues and direct reports. Perhaps it is ironic to send it in an email, but I am also blogging it here, repeating it in person, calling people on the phone…and so on.

How do people win an election? Or get promoted? Or get an article or book published?
How do people get a placement for a new high tech product pitch in a major IT magazine?
How do musicians get their music listened to by a famous studio?
How do we win new deals and new customers?
How does a country get approval to host the next Olympics?
How does a new budget for new spending get approved?
How does a customer agree to be a reference?
How does a customer approve a press release, a video clip or a case study?
How does any other person on this planet, who has other things to do (and his or her own personal challenges to deal with), take the time to actually listen to you and take care of what you need done?

Do you think sending an email means you are done?

You have to: send emails, call people, talk to them, explain why what you ask is important, brainstorm on how you can work together to get things done, escalate to their managers if you are not getting anywhere with them, go to lunch with them, call them, send them a thank you card, buy them a gift, call them again, take them to breakfast, send them another email, call them again, attend a meeting they are at, sell the idea to their manager, call them on their cell, call them at home, email them again, follow up with their manager, send them another gift…

Think of creative ways to help them succeed in their jobs so that in return they will help you do yours.
Do them a few favors and see if you can get some favors too!
Think hard about what you would do if you were them.
How would you be motivated to do what you need them to do?

And do the above a thousand times over.

Persistence, communication, persuasion, negotiation and finesse, all combined, a thousand times over, will get you what you need to get the job done.

Sending an email, waiting for months, pretending like you did your part (when deep inside you know the truth) and then saying “I failed because I was ignored” is simply fooling yourself.

If it really matters to you, then own it, push for it, be timely, be creative, and assume nothing.

Rudolf Melik is the author of The Rise of the Project Workforce: Managing People and Projects in a Flat World, and is the CEO and a founder of Tenrox. In his writings and speeches, Melik explores the ways that companies can thrive in a world where rapid technological advances and globalization are changing how we get work done and manage the people who do it. Rudolf’s professional blog can be found at:

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