By Larry Galler
Every business has projects underway and everyone has had projects that didn’t work out. Some go astray and sometimes they go horribly wrong, expensively wrong. Looking back at failed projects over time one wonders, “what could we have been thinking?” 20/20 hindsight is amazingly accurate, especially when projects start by looking forward through rose-tinted glasses.
We have all heard about creating a mission statement for a business. All businesses should have one and many actually do. The mission statement focuses energies and defines the reason for existence in a way that all can understand. A mission works for projects in the same manner.
When creating a new project within the business, if a little time is spent creating, defining, and agreeing on the mission of the project, those working on it will better understand it and be better focused on the intended outcome(s). They will see their contribution to this project and to the company as a whole. A mission statement should explain the reason for the project, the desired outcome(s), and the benefits of creating and implementing it.
Once the mission is defined it is important to determine whether the project and expected outcome are congruent with the mission of the business, if not, then either modify the project or leave it and go on to another one. This step ferrets out waste of time and waste of enthusiasm dead-ends (time and enthusiasm are terrible things to waste).
As a project wends its way from concept to outline to prototyping, testing, modification, retesting, then finished design and implementation, it’s very important to frequently check at each step to ensure the project remains on target and focused on the mission. It is easy to stray off course, missing the intended outcome so a “mid-course correction” should be planned and then instituted so the project returns the desired outcomes instead of eventually ending up on the trash heap of well-intentioned but failed attempts.
So start every new project with the following statements: “The mission of this project is (fill in the blanks).” “The expected outcome of this project is: (fill in the blanks).” “The anticipated benefits of this project are: (fill in the blanks).” If you define your projects this way everyone involved in the project will know why you / they are undertaking it and what the expected or desired outcomes are. Everyone will remain better focused and the outcomes will fit your business, not harm it.
About the author
Question or comment to Larry: firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Galler coaches and consults with high-performance executives, professionals, and small businesses since 1993. He is the writer of the long-running (every Sunday since November 2001) business column, “Front Lines with Larry Galler”. For a free coaching session, email Larry for an appointment – Larry@larrygaller.com. Sign up for his free newsletter at http://www.larrygaller.com.