October 7, 2011
One of the more exciting benefits of being part of a management consulting practice is the opportunity to get involved with organizations who seek a new vision and strategy. It’s energizing to speak with people who are leading these transformations, as their endless ideas for potential are infectious.
While this development is an exciting and critical period for an organization, a bigger challenge we often face is sustaining momentum once execution begins. This is typically where organizations fall short.
Without an organized and effective structure to execute ideas and implement change, the organization is doomed to tread along, half-clinging to its vision and half-holding onto its previous operating culture. The organization often winds up somewhere in the middle and is inevitably forced to resume the process at some point.
Execution may not be the sexy side to strategy, but it is the area that separates the men from the boys – especially when faced with the not-so-sexy (and often overlooked) but critical practice of project management.
As individuals, we are all project managers at heart. Think about it. Almost everything we do in our personal lives can be thought of as a project. Even this weekend’s Thanksgiving dinner. My household is typically where the festivities are held – but this dinner isn’t just going to happen.
My wife and I spent precious time brainstorming a guest list and menu, while considering feedback from the rest of the family ‘stakeholders’. From this, I developed a budget. My wife developed a budget. Then, we agreed on a budget. Hers.
This past week, we’ve been engulfed in the ‘preparation’ stage. Buying the food…cleaning the house…. preparing the guest room…movies for the kids…special requests….
Sunday we’ll be in full-blown ‘execution’ mode. Get the turkey into the oven before noon (contingent on whether we remembered to defrost). Greet the relatives, provide the snacks, and organize a game of football. Set the table; make some gravy, calm the kids down…… have a drink. It’s over.
Wait – no, it’s not. Now comes the massive clean-up. And another drink.
Do we create a project plan and choose a project manager to oversee all of this? Formally, no. But make no mistake, as my wife can attest, these definitely both exist!
So, the challenge for organizations as I see it…is to better formalize our basic, innate project management skills into the corporate environment and execute strategically – similar to how we plan, coordinate and execute events we face in our day-to-day lives.
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