Is the importance of a good memory starting to diminish?

If I forget the name of a colleague or a customer, I can look at my e-mail, search the web or consult social media.  And what’s more I can have all of these sources of information and more, ever present, with my trusty mobile phone or tablet to hand.  Google Glass was an attempt to make information even more accessible, but despite its conspicuous failure, it seems likely that wearable access to the world’s information will become commonplace before long.

We seem to be moving nicely towards the vision of Sci-Fi writers, of future citizens having the equivalent of their mobile device implanted into their heads, providing instant access to all information without having to bother using any of that mushy stuff in your cranium.

However, for the moment and until The Matrix vision of instant learning hits us, we do need to learn and retain lots of stuff, to allow us to function in both our personal and working lives.  Customers aren’t going to be impressed by specialists reading from a mobile device or sales guys glancing at their e-mail shortly before shaking hands, to find out who it is they’re meeting.  Worse still, that delightful young lady isn’t going to be charmed by the love of her life consulting YouTube at a particularly passionate moment, just to make sure he’s getting everything right!

I’ve found that the really impressive individuals have a combination of outstanding intellect and an excellent memory.  It’s almost as if for the truly gifted, one doesn’t come without the other.

Logs are invaluable


However, down in the slightly more mundane world of Project Management, the sheer quantities and complexity of information being generated, means that even with a good memory you are unlikely to be capable of retaining it, without help.  With this in mind, it helps to maintain logs:

  1. A Project Plan. This not only annotates what you’re going to have to do to deliver a project, it also allows you to review and track progress
  2. A Risk, Issues, Assumptions and Dependency log. This ensures that not only do you take a note of these, but also review them regularly.  It also provides an audit trail for how you addressed and hopefully resolved these facets of a project.
  3. An Action Log, picks up and annotates actions below plan level, or ones that are short-lived and not worth rejigging a plan for. It too provides an audit trail for the resolution of these actions.

Project Management Tools can facilitate this


A traditionally organised project has each of these as a separate document on a shared drive or portal, however more collaborative management tools are now appearing on the market that are gradually incorporating project planning and collaboration tools with these sorts of logs.  Have a look at tools like easyprojects or rationalplan.


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Read more advice on Project Management in Project Management for SMEs – available in print and ebook format.

Gren Gale is a consultant specialising in Project Management and Procurement and is owner of PM Results


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