Even if you are an experienced leader, you should plan a new project from the ground up. There will always be contingencies that you cannot anticipate. Precise planning helps to build confidence. It enables you to get in touch with the project’s demands, including those it will make on you.

So, as you read this story, ask yourself:

Leading and planning are two sides of the same coin. In a new project, this is even more the case. So, test yourself against Samantha who, in this case, plans her way towards a new venture.

Samantha would describe her production company as “niche.” It focused on how girls coped with just growing up. The formula seemed inexhaustible.

So, what was the problem?

By the time she came to see me, Samantha felt it was time to climb out of her niche and do something affecting the broader society. She was 40 and, for a self-styled creative, her work too circumscribed.

What she needed, it turned out, was to lead a creative initiative that she devised, organized, and saw through to success. She needed to face down a challenge. “I need to mount a Broadway show,” she said, catching her breath and watching my face. “I know it’s a leap—in scale, in terms of what I know I can do—but it’s time for me to try.” I never discourage clients, but was Samantha being realistic?

Samantha’s urge to propel herself towards Broadway had been spurred by the conviction that Broadway now ached for upheaval. She would introduce Broadway to the life of a 16th century martyr, Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake as a heretic but belatedly attained the stature of Galileo.

Where had this notion come from? Most immediately, did Samantha have the expertise to mount a credible attempt?

Bruno was an Italian philosopher, poet, and cosmologist. His theories extended to include the then-novel Copernican model (abhorred by the Church). Though he began as a Dominican friar, he later denied core tenets of Catholic doctrine, including eternal damnation, the trinity, the divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary, and transubstantiation during the Mass. He wandered around Europe until the Inquisition imprisoned, tried, and executed him. Ultimately, he was celebrated as a martyr to science. As Samantha said, “His life is recognized as beyond dramatic.”

My interest was piqued.

But then came the real challenge. Samantha had never mounted a Broadway musical. Bruno represented a huge leap into novelty, a total change in long-standing direction.

Samantha would be heading a multi-pronged enterprise that would include writers, researchers, singers, costumers, dancers, financiers, actors, location managers, and publicists. Could she handle the practical, even emotional aspects of what she’d need to do? Could she anticipate some of it, to minimize stress down the road?

As we spoke, I advised her that the best way to assume a leadership position of a new enterprise is to have a solid plan. Be as organized as possible. Contingencies will always arise, but you should leave as little to chance as possible—even while the project takes shape over an extended period. So, we set out to devise a plan that was forward-looking, which over the next year or so would be augmented by careful, studied organization.

First, we discussed getting something down on paper, sort of a rough draft of a script that she could show to possible financial backers. But that itself would require initial funding. So, I suggested that she talk with some (moneyed) friends and associates and interest them in the idea, ideally, winning them over, as she had done with me.

It worked. She obtained enough funding for a researcher/writer to draft a script, delineating the main characters.

Then she would go back to those potential backers and secure greater funding, enabling her to firm up the script and hold an initial reading with potential actors. If all went well, she would secure more funding, based on a budget that would carry her through tryouts. Then, she’d make sure that her permanent investors were still on board. She would need to consult theatrical lawyers and get contracts for everyone. She would have to get a team of writers to refine the book; a group of professional actors; a librettist; a choreographer; stage managers.

Could she do it all? Samantha recognized that her practical preparations were an element of her psychological preparation. A leader, especially of a new project, should create their own support mechanisms, since everyone else may be too disengaged to provide the specific support that may be needed as challenges arise.

Samantha realized that, with sufficient planning and organization, she could take the right steps in the right order at the right time to achieve positive, reinforcing results. She would also need back-up plans, since plans may give way to other plans; the idea was always to be ready. Planning is a form of precise anticipation, not some immovable, blunt projection.

In a new venture, where you don’t know what you don’t know, leadership entails contingency planning so that surprise is held to a minimum.

So, as Samantha began to take the reins of Bruno, she focused on some important ideas:

Right now, Samantha is following through.

QOSHE - Leadership: How to Start a New Project - Ahron Friedberg M.d
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Leadership: How to Start a New Project

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13.05.2024

Even if you are an experienced leader, you should plan a new project from the ground up. There will always be contingencies that you cannot anticipate. Precise planning helps to build confidence. It enables you to get in touch with the project’s demands, including those it will make on you.

So, as you read this story, ask yourself:

Leading and planning are two sides of the same coin. In a new project, this is even more the case. So, test yourself against Samantha who, in this case, plans her way towards a new venture.

Samantha would describe her production company as “niche.” It focused on how girls coped with just growing up. The formula seemed inexhaustible.

So, what was the problem?

By the time she came to see me, Samantha felt it was time to climb out of her niche and do something affecting the broader society. She was 40 and, for a self-styled creative, her work too circumscribed.

What she needed, it turned out, was to lead a creative initiative that she devised, organized, and saw through to success. She needed to face down a challenge. “I need to mount a Broadway show,” she said, catching her breath and watching my face. “I know it’s a leap—in scale, in terms of what I know I can do—but it’s time for me to try.” I never discourage clients, but was........

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