You’ve probably lived out this story one time or another: You’re having a great day at work. You’re in the zone, knocking tasks out one by one. Then, all of a sudden, your supervisor drops a stack of papers on your desk and informs you that you’re in charge of a massive project. Talk about taking the wind out of your sails!
There are few things on the job that are more intimidating than a big project. Research, repetitive tasks, and mountainous loads of paperwork can be huge turnoffs when it’s time to take on that big endeavor.
However, there’s no need to fear. Instead of trying to eat a pizza whole, you divide it into slices, right? It’s a well-documented fact that projects are easier to complete when divided into multiple smaller, more manageable tasks. In the same way, we will take a look at a process that can make the task of handling your project as simple as a pizza dinner.
The General Intervention Model
The General Intervention Model, also known as the GIM, is widely used in the field of social work. This might seem odd and irrelevant to your upcoming proposal or other project, but I’ve fallen in love with its logical order and manageable steps, and I believe you will too.
GIM divides your project into seven basic steps: Engage, Assess, Plan, Do, Evaluate, Terminate, and Follow-up. Let’s take a closer look.
Step 1: Engage
This is the “getting to know you” stage of the project. Here, you do any research necessary to determine the money, resources, and time necessary to complete the task. In this stage you’ll also figure out which people, departments, or companies you need to involve in the project. You’re basically getting all your tools together to complete the task.
The point of engagement is to increase your familiarity with the project and its details as much as possible. Giving it due diligence from the very beginning will greatly reduce surprises, which can slow things down significantly or even endanger the project entirely.
Step 2: Assess
This step is a deeper progression of the Engagement stage. You look at what you have, compare it to what you need, and size it up. If you have any assessment tools or protocols, now is the time to use them. Look at budgets, personnel schedules, and talk to supervisors to get a full scope of what you’re dealing with.
While engagement is the stage where you do research to collect information, assessment is the stage where you analyze that information to understand how the project will be completed within your specific system. This may be done through forms, software, or a bunch of number crunching on some Post-Its. Either way, the goal of this stage is to make the data yours so that you can use it as effectively as possible.
Step 3: Plan
At this point, you take the information collected in the first two stages and use it to determine exactly how you will execute the task. Planning is the most critical step in succeeding, as the product of this stage provides the map that guides you through the rest of the project. Here are the basic steps to developing your plan of attack:
- Dissect the project into a list of problems that you seek to solve by completing it. Make sure each problem is clearly defined and is something that you can realistically work on. Resolving world hunger is an admirable aim, but it’s an unlikely goal for a freelancer or a small business, so stick to things you can more or less control.
- Translate the problems into needs. Your project may include solving the problem of a loss of clients, for example. A need that directly relates to this would be to improve customer satisfaction. Translating problems into needs can lead you to some great ideas and solutions because it causes you to keep a positive outlook.
- Develop goals. To state it simply, a goal is a final outcome. It is not how you are going to get there, but a simple answer to the question, “Where do I want to be?”
- Develop objectives. Objectives are the bridge between where you are and where you want to be. Determine the exact tasks you need to perform to reach your goals and exactly when you are going to complete them.
Step 4: Do
This is the step where you do what you planned, just as you planned it. Each task may take only a few minutes or as long as a few months, but don’t give up! Stick closely to the plan except where you have to adjust to changes and unforeseen circumstances.
The key to success here is to carry out the objectives you determined in the previous step and accomplish them on time. This gives you the greatest shot at a successful outcome.
Step 5: Evaluate
Did the project meet your expectations? Did you do what you said you would do? Did your partners and clients do their parts? Evaluation is absolutely crucial to long-term success as it helps you improve personally and shows you how you can get better results on future projects.
If you have a specific evaluation form, feel free to use it. Use the tools that work best for you, but be honest with yourself in answering the question, “Was the project a success?” Take time to reflect on why it was or it wasn’t.
Step 6: Terminate
If the mission is accomplished, go ahead and wrap it up. Revel in the satisfaction of a job well done. If not, determine your next steps. What needs to be done to successfully complete the project? What do you need to do? Whose help will you need?
A surprise or unexpected challenge may make it difficult for you to finish the project as you planned. However, modifying your plan based on your new situation allows you to still finish with a positive result.
Step 7: Follow-Up
Look at the outcome of the project. Do the results have a lasting effect? Don’t forget to send a thank-you note and check in with those who helped you out!
Checking up on clients and partners communicates to them that they are more than just tools and resources to you. This small step can also lead them to seek your help and expertise for future projects, which is gold for freelancers and those who work for multiple clients.
The GIM was taught to me to guide me in counseling and case management. We may not all be social workers, but we do all have cases, whether they are at work or in our personal projects. These steps may seem like a lot, but the system is formed in a way that can handle projects of any size.
Give the GIM a shot for your next big project. And I hope it will make your biggest tasks as easy to handle as it has made mine.
How do you manage a large project? Got tips?
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