Do you know how the project you’re working on supports the organization’s mission and vision? Have you considered how the planned change aligns with or is at odds with the organization’s culture and core values? Do you know how it contributes to enterprise strategies and priorities? If you don’t, you’re operating without some critical information needed to ensure project success. Here’s some guidance on what you need to know about the relationship between your project and your organization’s business plan and how it can help you and your stakeholders improve project performance.
An organization’s Business Plan, which encompasses key facets of an organization’s reason for being, hopes, aspirations and directions, should provide the context for any business or technology change. The relationship of a planned change to plan elements should be clearly understood by all those involved in and affected by the change to ensure consistency of direction and ongoing success. Any dichotomies between the stated directions and beliefs and the impact of a planned change need to be addressed as part of the change effort. The factors to be considered include:
Mission – A mission explains why an organization exists. Here’s The Disney Corporate Mission Statement: “The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.”
Vision – A vision states what an organization wants to be. It shows an end state where all the plans and strategies will end up. Disney’s vision? “To make people happy”.
Culture and Core Values – Culture and core values are what an organization believes. Often they’re not written down. When they are, they are often not the beliefs that are demonstrated by the day to day behaviours of managers and staff.
In an interview with CIO Insight Magazine editor Edward Baker, John Kotter addressed the challenges of implementing cultural change: “The way cultures change fundamentally … is that you get a group of people to behave in a new way, and if that new way works by producing benefits for them, and if it works long enough, then it begins to kind of seep into the bloodstream of the organization—without having to have meetings on cultural change.”
Here’s one example of a core value statement from an Information Technology organization:
Recognizing that everything we do contributes to the effectiveness and profitability of our organization, we affirm that:
• Our strength is in our people. Everything we accomplish is through the talents, dedication and creativity of our people. We are committed to their growth and personal development.
• We are specialists and enablers. We support and empower our business partners by providing direction, professional services and quality solutions.
• We are innovative problem solvers. We always look for opportunities to improve productivity, service and quality by applying new techniques, tools and approaches.
• We do the right thing. We don’t just do the cheapest thing or the expedient thing. We do the right thing.
• We are people of integrity. We take pride in what we produce.
• We care passionately about quality. We build quality into every product we produce. We do it right the first time. And whatever we’re working on, we leave it better than when we found it.
• We are committed to building on our architecture. We apply our energy and talents to make every initiative a step forward while recognizing that not every initiative will be a strategic one.
• We get the job done. We work with intensity. We take responsibility. We are results-oriented. We overcome obstacles. We deliver the goods.
• We are a team. Each player makes a unique and valuable contribution. And by pulling together, we generate the synergy of champions. Together, we deliver!
Knowing when and where there is a gap is vital to the formulation of reasonable plans that can close the gap and help the change succeed.
Strategies – A strategy shows how to achieve a vision. It’s a game plan. There should be a very clear relationship between the planned change and one or more strategies.
Enterprise Priorities – Enterprise priorities delineate the specific initiatives that will be done to support the strategies, the sequence of conduct, the dependencies and the levels of funding. The fit of the planned change within the enterprise priorities should be fully disclosed to all involved.
Programs – A program is “a group of projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually.” The opportunities for creating a program that includes the planned change and the relationship to other existing or planned programs should be explored to take advantage of opportunities and manage existing or future relationships appropriately.
Timing – Having lists of priorities, dependencies and programs doesn’t do much good if a reasonable schedule isn’t available to show when initiatives are expected to start and complete, what resources have been allocated and when and how the initiatives to be tackled are sequenced over time. The relationship to this master schedule needs to be established and managed as events unfold.
Don’t be shy. Remember to ask the question, “How does this change support our organization’s business plan?” That includes all the factors above. Make sure you get an answer that makes sense to you and to the other stakeholders. I guarantee, the powers that be will not have all the answers. They’ll have some thinking and figuring to do. Not only will that give you a better understanding of your project’s place in the scheme of things, the answers will provide immense value to your project and all the people involved. Well done.
Drew Davison is the owner and principal consultant at Davison Consulting, a senior consultant at Mapador Inc. and a blogger on Project Times. He is the developer of Project Pre-Check, an innovative framework for launching projects and guiding successful project delivery, the author of Project Pre-Check – The Stakeholder Practice for Successful Business and Technology Change and Project Pre-Check FastPath – The Project Manager’s Guide to Stakeholder Management. He works with organizations that are undergoing major business and technology change to implement the empowered stakeholder groups critical to project success. Drew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.