Your Project’s Time and Place

Your project is set in a time and place. It is important to remember what that time and place is.

The work that you are doing has a very specific context and a very specific audience. When you start a project, you have to clearly define what that context is, and who your audience is.

The reason that you are doing something is that there are people who will be impacted or changed because of the work that you are doing. The people who will be affected, or affect your project, is your audience. These are the people who have are invested in what you decide. If you act on your plans life will change a for them. You need to consider these people, and you need to make sure that you are making conscious decisions about the change you are making. Involving everyone doesn’t mean that you will do what everyone wants you to. For example, if you start a project to open a drop-in for marginalized people in a particular area, there may be a group of people who oppose the location. What this does mean is that you shouldn’t just consider one group over the other. You need to listen, empathize with, and involve everyone. If everyone is in the same room, you can come up with better ideas. And if someone leaves unhappy, at least you know that you have explored all the possibilities. And I am sure that you have learned something that you can grow from.

The other thing to remember is the context of your project. I often hear myself saying, ‘Google does it like this . . . ‘ Using specific practices from other companies (including Google) as a model for your work isn’t a bad thing. But you have to remember that you are not Google. What works in one setting might not work in your setting. So if you are going to adopt a practice from another organization, make sure that you are customizing it to fit within your context. Make sure that once it is fully in place, people won’t say, ‘they’re doing what Google does.’ Rather you want people to look at your organization and say, ‘[your org’s name] does it like this . . . .’ Become a working example.

Your project has a context and context-specific stakeholders. Make sure that you plan your project according to what the project and setting needs, not according to what has worked elsewhere.