For years I have simply been throwing the stone at the centre of an avocado in the bin. It was only recently that I heard that it that contains much of the goodness! So, it is with strategic priorities.
A strategic initiative is like an avocado – it has a core that is easily overlooked. In the case of strategic projects that is the performance potential of the team responsible for making it happen.
Typically, the focus is on execution – on project plans, Gantt Charts and so on. What gets overlooked is the ability of those involved to ‘pull together in order to pull it off’.
For many strategic projects the difference between success and failure, can be the performance of the team charged with making it happen. That makes team performance and potential central to delivering strategic priorities.
Working on the team responsible for a strategic initiative is probably more important than any new project management tool or technique. It is complex, however.
First and foremost, they probably are not a ‘real team’ – more likely it is a group of people who have been brought together to work on the project but have little else in common. In particular they are likely to lack a common purpose, real interdependence or mutual accountability.
Chances are that the best project management techniques won’t rescue a struggling project or initiative. That is unless the team driving it, are empowered and invested in to succeed. That means that they have been set up for success with the right performance design structures (right people, right roles, right resources, etc.), performance dynamics/behaviors and execution supports. They must be given the authority and the responsibility for making it happen.