As a technical writer, an instructional designer/developer, and a project manager, I have found that a "buzz phrase" from David Allen's "Getting Things Done" is the one most helpful thing that I have learned in the past few years. No matter which type of project I'm tackling - from writing museum content to technical content to grant content to instructional content - I make sure that I share my next action at the end of a conference call or other meeting. I also document the next action of each of the other members of the team.
This one simple act has been surprisingly useful at keeping me and my coworkers - normally in offices across the country from each other if not continents apart - focused on where we are in our predetermined process rather than letting us get lost somewhere in the weeds of the future...
I'm interested in learning how others of you - especially those who work as consultants/contractors - politely keep your team members on track.