Whether you’re running a sprint, running a marathon, or running a project — you take off from a starting line with the goal of winding up on a finishing line. With the majority of projects, your starting line is your kick-off date. Your finishing line is your deadline.
The more I consider this metaphor it seems less like a marathon and more like track meet, especially when you think about all the hurdles that will be put in your way. You may even need to pass the baton to another partner during your project development, and where deadlines are involved there is usually a mad dash (a 20 yard dash at least) for the finish line in order to meet your completion date.
It is vital that you know where your Starting Line is in advance of your race
You need a firm fix on where you’ll begin. You need to know what resources you’ll have available during your run. Who your teammates are (who your competition is) and the criteria on how you’ll be rated and judged. Most importantly when the starting gun is scheduled to go off.
You also need to know where the Finish Line is before your race begins
You need to know the project goals and expectations. What will be considered a Gold Medal big win, what is a Silver Medal second place, and what results will only merit a certificate of participation.
Most importantly, if you don’t know where the Finish Line is — how will you know when you’re done?