Neil Harding - Projects Lead

For many, taking a holiday is a time to switch off, dispense with routine and abandon the systems that we associate with the corporate world. Not me. I’m a list guy at work and a list guy away from work. Does that make me boring? I don’t think so!

A holiday for me isn’t packaged up with flights, transfers, accommodation, and every meal accounted for.  That’s fine for some, but for me I want adventure and independence and to do that successfully you need to plan!

When my wife and I recently went on a long-awaited trip to South Africa I had lists and notes for every aspect of our time away: route planning, how long we were going to be in each destination for, what we could do at each location, where to eat… the list of lists, goes on!  This was a much anticipated and special trip, and I wasn’t prepared to leave any aspect to chance.

It’s the same in the workplace.  As a Project Lead, it’s my responsibility to keep abreast of all the moving parts; to encourage and cajole all those involved; and ultimately to make things happen.  To do this successfully, I keep lists and notes galore!

In a previous role, I worked on highly competitive bids (anyone remember Building Schools for the Future?) involving numerous stakeholders and ensuring that all those moving parts were delivering their inputs to the bid in a timely and content appropriate manner was the ultimate juggling act.  If I’d missed a detail or failed to meet a deadline, the bid would have failed.  I’m glad to say they didn’t – my lists played a vital role in that success!

It was much the same delivering those successful bids – albeit in very different settings.  Working as part of the fabric of the school, often on live construction sites where temporary buildings became the classrooms of the moment, it was vital to work in recognition of their timetables but with an eye on keeping the IT implementation on schedule as part of the wider build programme.  Different moving parts, but again, numerous factors to consider and keep on track.  My lists were with me throughout.

But surely today, in 2022, in my role at Consenna I’m not still using lists?  You bet I am!

Of course, these aren’t always of the pen and paper variety but sometimes they still are.  When there’s a quick note I need to make, or a short checklist for an immediate task in hand, you can’t beat a post-it note!

I do concede, though, that longer term projects require an online tracker – this makes annotating and reordering easier, as well as tracking across several individual tasks and sub-tasks.

I’d love to profess that my lists are beyond fail.  Alas I cannot and there have been the odd occasions where things didn’t happen exactly as I might like.  When this occurs though, it’s chance for another list to come into play – the “Lessons Learnt” list.  It’s here where I save all the hacks that I have learnt over time that may prove beneficial in the future.  Running down that list before I start on a new project brings back memories and reminds me of the ‘mishaps’ to be avoided.

As for the collection of lists that are a permanent fixture in my suitcase ready to be deployed depending on the trip ahead, well that’s a story for another day!