What to do when you do not know how to proceed

Sometimes you feel like you are being blocked from all sides and you are not sure how to proceed. Automatically you start wondering if you are on the wrong path. 

Don’t give up at this point, since you would be missing out on a great success. In Germany we have a saying that says:

You don’t see the forest because of all the trees

If I feel trapped in a situation and don’t see the way out, I usually sit down and think it through following these little steps:

A few tips
  1. Make a list – list down the goal you want to reach and the steps you think you need to do. At this point, it does not need to be correct. 
A List helps you sort through your thoughts and break down a goal into smaller steps

I already talked about lists in my blog about Procrastination. They are really handy tools and you do get satisfaction from ticking things off the list.

2. Talk to a Coach – in this case it is better to use a coach than a mentor, since a coach helps you sort your thoughts and asks you the right questions.

Coaching will help you sort your thoughts and focus on the right goals.

3. Create a Plan – A plan breaks your journey into convenient steps and attaches a scheduled deadline to it. Plans are essential for dreams to become goals. Currently I am working with a Coach on creating exactly such plans for one of my big goals: Writing a Book.

Breaking your dream into actionable steps and putting dates to them, starts you off on your journey to success

I have actually just defined my high level milestones today! So I have started off on my journey.

4. Keep reassessing – when things seem stuck it can be for different reasons. But it always is a chance to reassess yourself, your plans and the environment. Is this still a priority? Is this still the right thing to do.

Keep reassessing
Off to greater heights

If you follow these simple tips you are definitely off to a great start. The journey is upwards! However, just as a mountain climb does usually not go straight up to the top, but meanders through valleys and around bends, even this journey will not be straight. Keep at it and you will reach!

A mountain climb is never a straight journey, but every bend, every valley opens up new vistas

Use the twists and turns that you encounter to sharpen your mind and eyes for the new things you encounter and learn along the way.

Let’s keep working on our goals! The only problem is when you stop moving. As long as you keep moving you are getting closer to your goals.

Communication – things to think about

Communication is our essential tool for passing messages, discussing things and ensuring others understand. But communication isn’t easy. There are so many things to consider, so many things to look at. SO let’s look at a few basics

Communication Links

You can see that there are many lines of communication within a group. Why is this important? Well, if there is a breakdown within any of these links, you get a problem communicating within the entire team,

Counting the communicating links manually you will realize that in this example there are 10 links. However if you have 4 people you get 6 links and if you have 6 people, then you get 15 links. You can see the bigger the team the faster the number of links goes up.

Here is a simple formula for calculating the number of links: n (n – 1) /2

I think you can also see that the more links you have the more potential communication breakdowns you can have. This means the more complex communication gets, That is one of the reasons why Agile teams are usually 5 people, absolute tops 7 people.

Communication Model

What you say does not always reach the way you send it. There is a lot of things in between that can distort your message. Have you ever played the game of “Chinese Whispers”? Where one child whispers something into someone’s ear and that child passes the message on? By the time it reaches the last, whatever was said is totally distorted. Some of the things that influence this are:

  • Accent
  • Ability to speak & understand the language used
  • Local use of the language
  • Cultural understanding
What to do?

So now that we know that there are many ways to distort the message you are trying to send out, what can we do? Here are my go to tips:

  1. Keep your team small
  2. Spend time on team building – get to know each other and learn your individual cultural understanding
  3. Pass important messages on yourself and ask questions to see if it was fully understood
  4. Encourage questions
  5. Make decisions together
  6. Allow everyone to have an input
  7. Create an atmosphere where people feel free and save to open up
What else to watch out for

The biggest clues will come from the non-verbal communication.

  1. Watch the body language, it will give you hints on who is understanding and who is not. It will also show you who is not in agreement or not comfortable with what was discussed / agreed.
  2. Observe your team closely. Are there any who have disconnected / disengaged? Is there anyone who is suddenly gone quiet? Is there anyone avoiding eye contact?
  3. Look out for facial expressions, even if they are hidden quickly

These are all signs for people who are either disagreeing, or not happy with what is being discussed. You are at acute danger to loose their buy-in and you won’t get their best performance.

How to handle these

First of all you encourage people to comment and give their views, even if they disagree. Ask for concerns. If you see one of the people who disengaged is not speaking up, then try and speak to them separately. This needs to be done with utmost sensitivity. If the other person feels confronted, they will clam up more. I usually do not talk to them directly after the meeting, but maybe the next day, unless of course this is an emergency and we need everyone’s buy-in immediately.

Go and have a cup of tea with that person, or meet them at the water dispenser. chat about other things first and then ask gently how they feel about the issue at hand and how they would suggest it is handled. Make sure you listen actively and remove your own inner filters and biases, so that you really hear and understand what they are saying.

They may be seeing something no one else does and this can be a great opportunity for innovation!

Let’s all learn to listen actively and engage every team member individually!

Sign-offs – Necessary Evil?


Chasing sign-off can be tedious, At times you may feel chasing the relevant stakeholder to sign you off can be tedious. But sign-offs are a very important part of Project Management. Not just at the end of a project but throughout there may be parts that you should sign off for confirmation of achievement

Why are Sign-offs important?

Sign-offs can be done for partial work or for a project or project phase being completed. A partial sign-off always indicates what part is being signed off. It is clearly that it is not the entire project scope being signed for. Even the final sign-off should include a short summary of the scope / benefits achieved. Especially in construction of installation projects the warranty begins with the sign off. It signals that you have handed over the construction or installation to the client. So if you do not get your sign-off in good time, you may actually be liable for equipment you have not handed over to the client. Especially tricky is the situation when a client starts using what you are building / installing before you have completed works.

Sign offs show that a Stakeholder confirms:

Partial Sign-offs:

  • A milestone has been achieved
  • A Benefit has been achieved
  • Something is now working as expected
  • Something has been built / created as expected

Final Sign-off:

This is now confirmation that the project is complete and all deliverables have been achieved

There are lot’s of templates on ProjectManagement.com that can be downloaded and adapted to the needs of your projects.

These Sign-offs serve one big purpose:

Confirmation that you have achieved. This is important for a variety of reasons:

  • Legal confirmation
  • Contractual confirmation
  • Approval to now invoice for work done
  • Confirmation by Stakeholders that their goals have been achieved.
  • etc.
What should you sign off?

Every project must have a final sign-off. Even internal projects! Without it you can not adjourn your project team and continue with other work. In client project sign-offs are also the permission to now invoice either for the milestone achieved, if you have agreed milestone payments, or the project is being closed out.

However, in some projects you may have other stakeholders impacted or their systems affected by project work. Then it is good to let them sign off as well, that their systems are working as expected after the work affecting them has been completed. For example in a recent project we were migrating data from an old storage facility to a new one. The System owners were involved while their data was being migrated, and once done we asked them to confirm by signing that everything is working well. Where there was some problems they raised an issue and it was resolved.

This way you have a confirmation that all was well at the point in time and no complaints can be raised later. If there is an issue in future, then it will be treated as a normal helpdesk call and attended outside of the project.

Who should sign?

I always recommend that you have at least 2 parties sign: The one who did the work & the one who approves. In partial sign-offs I may add a third party, like the sponsor (internal projects) or the project manager etc, depending on the magnitude on what you are signing off. If you have several vendors involved in a project, then each needs to be signed off individually for their part of the work.


Sign-offs are important legal documents that confirm work has been achieved, contract conditions have been met. It gives you the official approval that things had been right at the time. This way there will be no future claims that things had never been done properly. It also serves as a reassurance for peace of mind. If you clarify from the beginning that you will be asking for sign-offs at certain points and that partial sign-offs do not mean you are signing off the entire project, the stakeholders will be willing to work with you on these,

Let’s do sign-offs when and where needed!

Get a Coach

We all need a coach or a Mentor at different times in our lives. I have had various mentors and coaches throughout my career.  Some helped me as a one-off, others walked with me for a while. In actual fact I am just about to begin another coaching journey.


Let’s be clear, coaching and mentoring are very distinct things and very different. You can check my previous blogs to this topic:

Here are some brief definitions:

Mentoring: The Definition
A mentor is someone who shares their knowledge, skills and/or experience, to help another to develop and grow.

A mentor will share his experience with you and help you grow in your career

Coaching: The Definition
A coach is someone who provides guidance to a client on their goals and helps them reach their full potential.

A good coach will help you focus, sort your thoughts and ideas and point you in the right direction for growth. Often this is done by asking the right questions and giving you some homework to find your own way.

Why do we need this?

Simple: To avoid pitfalls and to learn from others. None of us was born with all wisdom in place. We need to learn. By using mentors and coaches you can speed up the process a bit and also improve the quality of the outcomes.

I have had the privilege to work with some amazing coaches in the past. This has helped me grow in leaps and bounds. However, the best coach or mentor will not help you anything, if you are not putting in your own work as well. As they say

You can lead the horse to water, but you can not force it to drink

Unless you are willing to open up, recognize mistakes and wrong turnings, you will not be able to really benefit from coaching and / or mentorship. Open yourself up to new ways and new thoughts and dive in. It is an eye-opening adventure.

Yes a good coach or mentor will cost you money. But is it worth it! You are using their time & experience, so make sure you pay them fairly.


When you open yourself up and make the most of your coaching / mentorship sessions, you will gain so much. Your entire thoughts and planning may actually change. But it will definitely set you on your road to progress.


Let’s all look for mentors / coaches for growth

Proud Moments

Who would have thought that this shy Girl who didn’t even dare have her own opinion would be a sought after Speaker and Writer who also appears in Books?

1.5 years ago a PMI friend Gratien Mukeshimana reached out and asked if I would be interested to contribute to a book that is meant to motivate and inspire young people to go into entrepreneurship. I felt honored. I also felt that I was not the right person, since I was in employment at the time. But then I realized that entrepreneurship is about leadership and that I have been an entrepreneur before. So I decided it is time to give back.

I was asked to contribute 28 words of wisdom / tips and the journey of association with 28COE began. Now I am proudly  part of this cause.


I also feature in the Celebrating Women in Project Management Initiative 2020 by Elise Stevens. This resulted in me featuring in her Book “Unlocking the Opportunity – how over 150 navigated their careers in project management“. I was proud to have been selected among the 150 women featured in the book.


It took me a while to get the guts to speak during events and in conferences. But then I realized 2 things:

  1. I had something to share
  2. People listen to me

I enjoy these speaking engagement and look forward to do more of this in the future. Speaking in the global network of the Project Management Institute (PMI) is one of my favorite places, Many chapters have requested me to speak. I have also spoken in conferences and professional development days.

It was an big privilege to join the prestigious Leadership Institute Master Class of PMI and have learned a lot and rubbed shoulders with big people like Jim Snyder, one of the founders of PMI.

Most importantly I have grown over the past few years and learned to be content with who I am. I have continued to learn and grown from strength to strength. I even made it onto the big screens of PMI

What is my lesson here? If I can do it, you can too!

You can contact me if you want me to speak in one of your events


+254 722 770778