Focus on “Outcomes” instead of “Projects”

Spring is upon us and with it a renewed sense of energy across the industry about the opportunity that lies ahead of us. Over the last week I have spent a ton of time with some of our strategic customers in the west. Upon reflection it dawned on me that sometimes we can become so internally focused on delivering projects “on time” and “on budget” that we have lost touch with the reason we started them in the first place. To be more specific “Why” are we committed to these projects and what is the end “Outcome” to the business when we are successful?

Let’s break-down a typical project lifecycle to drive to heart of the issue. At the executive level there are typically 3 main drivers of shareholder value –

  1. Revenue Growth (YoY/CAGR)
  2. Profitability (% of Revenue)
  3. Customer Loyalty (NPS)

These 3 drivers typically define SVP/VP/Director priorities within a fiscal year –

  • Driver #1 – Revenue Growth
    • Organic Expansion (Routes to Market, Product Lines)
    • Mergers/Acquisitions
  • Driver #2 – Profitability
    • Operating Expense Reduction
    • Increased Productivity
  • Driver #3 – Consumer Loyalty
    • Service and Support

These priorities are then broken down into projects and assigned to the managers across the business.

From an IT perspective we typically see projects across 4 focus areas –

  • Cost Reduction (Keeping the Lights On)
  • Revenue Growth (Innovation)
  • Customer and Employee Experience (Productivity/Loyalty)
  • Security and Risk Management (Protect the Brand)

These projects then get assigned to Project owners for requirements definition, vendor selection and eventually implementation. As the projects are delivered milestones are achieved and eventually the project is completed. The key question that is often forgotten is “Did we achieve the outcome?”.

This is the CRITICAL JUNCTURE! Once the project is completed all stakeholders need to reflect on the original “desired outcome” and agree on whether or not it was achieved. If not, all parties need to commit to a remediation plan. In addition quarterly reviews with key vendors, partners and employees should provide updates on progress against these key outcomes.

Numerous studies have shown that a team’s performance is improved when they are linked to a common “bigger” purpose.

When we all commit to an “Outcome” we rally against a common goal and stay committed as a team until the end goal is achieved.

One thought on “Focus on “Outcomes” instead of “Projects”

  1. Pingback: What can a Paddle Board Teach us about Innovation? –

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