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Strategic Priorities: On track for success?

In many organizations, strategic projects, priorities and initiatives are not being reviewed regularly enough. In a fast changing environment, the result is projects that are out-of-step with the evolving business and stakeholder needs.

Are you reviewing strategic projects & initiatives regularly enough?

Traditional methods of project review can be slow and cumbersome as schedules and tasks are reviewed line by line. While that is an important activity, those involved can easily get lost in the detail.

To help you to stay high, here is a technique you can use to speedily review your key strategic projects and priorities. It is designed for team dialog – to gather multiple perspectives on performance and potential.

Whether a project or initiative is on track for success depends on at least 5 key factors – shown visually in the diagram below.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Print the diagram above and give a copy to each person.
  • Ask people to asses the project on each of the 5 factors rating it Red, Amber or Green or alternatively on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 being absolutely on-track and 5 absolutely off-track).
  • If there are any questions, encourage people to interpret the labels for themselves. You will find an overview of each of the 5 factors below. If anybody would like to add another factor (e.g. morale or stakeholders) they can write it on the diagram.
  • Combine the results on one page – to get a consolidated view. Ask people to interpret what the analysis is showing: “What do you think this is saying?”
  • Then dialog each of the 5 factors – allowing people to offer their perspectives.
  • As the leader don’t react to anything that is said. Remember there is no right or wrong – just different perspectives.
  • Encourage anybody with a different perspective to share their point of view. Maybe there is somebody who can see a project risk that others cannot see or are afraid to talk about.
  • Listen to what people are really saying. What is the level of energy on display? Is the narrative positive or negative? Are people engaged?
  • Keep people focused on solutions, rather than on problems. Invite people to offer suggestions for how any of the challenges highlighted can be addressed.
  • Stand back and reflect on the exercise – what it revealed about the project as well as the team. Ask yourself:
    • How confident are you of the success of the project?
    • What your confidence level is in the team’s ability to ‘pull together in order to pull it off’?
    • What are the implications for you as a leader – what does it reveal about your leadership approach, priorities, etc.

Apply the “work the team not the problem” principle letting your team assess the project for itself. As a leader hold yourself back.

A key benefit of reviewing a strategic priority this way is to build the capacity for ‘team reflectivity’ and effective collaboration. It is also the building of resilience and determination through an open dialog on progress as well as obstacles.

On Track – the 5 Factors Explained

Scope:  What is included and what is not?  Is everybody clear on this?

Time:  What is the timeline, including stage gates/staged delivery?  Is this the right time?  Is the start time, finish time and duration clear? Are assumptions regarding time required clear/safe?  Is there enough time?  What happens if we run over time?  What is the amount of time required might also be here (although it could also be under budget).

Budget:  This includes all resources including manpower, time, equipment, etc. 

Quality: Are we clear on how quality will be measured?  The outputs and deliverables for example.

Business benefit: This includes the outputs of the project and their broader impact on the organization.  Is the need clear?  What need is this serving?  What benefits do stakeholder value?  How will benefits be measured / tracked?  What are the direct and indirect outcomes?

Would you like our help in assessing the performance and potential of a key strategic priority and the team charged with its execution? Please contact us.

 

 

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