This is part 1 in our series focused on guiding you on how to implement a new project initiative without it getting blown up.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are the author’s own and do not represent Erecruit’s support of a particular alliance – Empire or Republic.
In the first post in our Staff Wars: Rogue None series, we introduced the project and team that will serve as our use case as we explore some of the do’s and don’ts of project management.
Now, I want to focus on that word we hear from toddlers to teenagers, from our spouses or our colleagues… “Why?”
Before embarking on any new initiative, be it for an organizational transformation or minor change, one of the most important pre-planning tasks that cannot be skipped is ensuring you have a well-formulated strategic vision (where you’re headed) and specific, supporting, measurable goals and objectives (how you’re going to achieve your vision) defined. Without these, your project runs a significant risk of derailing very quickly. The strategic vision, along with the goals and objectives should be communicated with the organization early and often.
We all too regularly seem to shift from project approval to kick-off, selecting team members and assigning tasks without anyone knowing what the heck the project is truly meant to achieve, as well as what —- we will leverage to help us stay on the correct course.
A project lacking a vision and explicit goals and objectives is like planning a vacation without taking into consideration time of year, who’s going, how you’re paying for it, or how you’re going to get there.
While we all are probably familiar with the concepts of vision, goals, and objectives, most of us aren’t that great with actually defining what each should exemplify. When it comes to formulating these crucial artifacts with your leadership team, consider leveraging a few of the below discovery questions:
- Why have we decided to embark on this project?
- What are we seeking to change or improve?
- How do we plan to achieve it?
- Why is this important to our company? What value will it bring?
- What are the key goals and objectives for this project?
- How and what will the goal accomplish towards the greater vision?
- What is the expected result of the goal’s completion (what does “complete” look like – when is it considered done)?
- How will each be achieved, and by whom?
- Has a similar goal been completed before? By whom?
- Do we have the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities, and resources to accomplish the goal?
- How will we determine if the project is successful?
- What is critical for a successful project launch?
- What are we willing to defer?
- What would prevent the project from being successful?
If you would like further guidance (or simply need a spark of inspiration on vision and goal setting), blogger and author David Masters has written a few posts regarding best practices around vision and goal formulation.
The vision and goals are also meant to serve as the compass that should continually be referred to whenever a decision impacting the project must be made – be it implementing a new process, role, or function, altering an existing one, or deciding to preserve one without any alteration. During the entire project lifecycle, from planning, to risk mitigation, and change management, each issue presented should be evaluated against whether it aligns or diverts from the stated vision and goals. This makes certain that, at any stage of the project, the activities that are being prioritized and performed support the project’s over-arching measures for success. It also protects the project from potentially being hi-jacked by stakeholders with conflicting or misaligned priorities and directives (or the dreaded “scope creep”). Just like with our vacation analogy, if you encounter a matter that may impact your planned journey, you must evaluate which path to take based on the one that will still ensure you end up at your correct destination (without unnecessary or unwanted delay or cost).
For our galactic project team, it seems not everyone understood (or chose to follow) the original proposed vision and goals of the project: “to provide sustainable energy for worlds ravaged by war” . This naturally led to executive and team members attempting to derail it to serve their needs over those of the entire organization. Without clear vision and goals, Project Celestial Power quickly morphed into Project Stardust , or as we know it’s more common name to be, Project Death Star.
In the next chapter in this series, we’ll examine what to look for (and avoid) when selecting your project team.
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 Star Wars Wookieepedia. Project Celestial Star
 Star Wars Wookieepedia. Death Star
Amy Yackowski is the Director of Healthcare Best Practices for Erecruit. She is an avid watcher of the Star Wars stories and seeker of new ways to improve the contingent workforce management experience for staffing agencies and their clients through operational analysis and technology. Amy is responsible for helping Erecruit healthcare customers develop their framework, analyze their business processes and optimize their use, effectiveness and efficiency of the Erecruit solutions. Join her in conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn and email@example.com.