Seeking out the BIG WHY of a project
*Target sits at the heart of any project. Getting to the right target, however, is not as simple a task as it may seem. Target is more than just ‘what’ we are delivering including the ‘who’ is it for and ‘how’ will we get there, but it goes to the heart of ‘WHY’ we are doing it; why it matters that we deliver it; what makes it so important that we are doing this. Our heads figure out the what, where, who, when and how our projects get done. Our heart figures out the WHY. And it is the WHY that we use to engage others and to act as our guiding star.
Defining your Target
A well-defined Target, stating both the what and the WHY, remains as a constant and helps you every step of the way. It drives behaviours. Decisions are made with reference to it. Priorities are decided by their impact on it. And resources are allocated on the basis of how they will contribute to achieving it. In fact, the Target lives and breathes throughout your project (or programme or life) like a giant guiding hand.
Expressed as a simple statement of outcomes, Target encompasses the objectives of your project and why it is important. Defining the scope of a project is often enough of a challenge – getting agreement on what is in scope and what is out – but truly defining your Target goes deeper.
Getting to a Target statement that can be written down, is a bit like project planning; it is a process, the value is in the exploration. You have to start inside the head of the person who had the original idea, find out what is important about the idea and why it really matters. Then you work through all the others who have been engaged on the project up to this point and do the same. Getting to the essence of WHY it matters is the key to unlocking the Target.
Once you have your Target it can help to develop further and translate it into a strap line. And then you test it, throughout the planning process, through the design of your project and governance structure and finally as the basis of all your project communications.
Testing your Target
So how do you know when you’ve landed on the right Target? The frustrating answer is that you only really know it is right, when you have already got to it, because it works.
The test is relatively simple – it’s when you get the same answer from everyone in the team when you ask what the Target is and why we are doing this project, and when you drill into that response you still get consistent answers.
Furthermore, because your whole *Tribe ‘gets’ the Target, all members are aligned to it, understand the why’s behind it, and are fully invested in it, all the project decisions become easier to make as well.
Using your Target
And once you have a Target for your project, aligning everyone around one simple concept is crucial but you will immediately things start to get a whole lot easier.
Without a well-articulated Target, or indeed a misaligned Target, the role of being a project manager can feel more like herding wild cats than a well-schooled team of Huskies across the finish line. Project mayhem can ensue. It can cause endless debates on the right way forward, see design decisions being challenged, difficulties in achieving document sign offs and you are more likely to experience frequent budget overruns. Meetings become a mix of personal and political agenda and the process as a whole, stalls and falters.
Knowing when to stop a project that is not delivering is just as much part of a project manager’s role as delivering them successfully, but how can you be sure the project is not delivering if there are multiple views of what the Target is and therefore, what success looks like.
The Target ultimately becomes the one single message that everyone who touches the project knows and understands; just like that cleaner at NASA who when asked by President Kennedy during a visit in 1962 what his role was, his infamous reply came “Well, Mr President, I am here to put a man on the moon”.
*Target is the first module of the ExtraordinaryPM Framework. Target focuses on the how, the why and the what of a project and its scope. On our ExtraordinaryPM Mastery programme, we explore the mobilising power of the Target (‘Big Why’) for your project. With a clear Target in-sight you can align and lead your Tribe more effectively. Your Target is your ‘North Star’ for decision-making and prioritisation and will guide you across the Terrain of your project.
*Terrain is the next of the 5T’s of the ExtraordinaryPM Framework. The Terrain is the landscape and business context of your project’s journey. We train our Extraordinary PMs to plan each project like a runner plans a marathon. Our Mastery Programme encourages you to consider where the tough, sticky or uphill stretches could be, what risks you might face, where you’re most likely to need refreshment or rejuvenation and how to deal with both expected and unexpected events that will crop up along the way.
*Time is critical in project delivery. ExtraordinaryPM’s focus on Mastering their Time, not just simply managing it, so they get the very best from the precious and limited time available to them and their Tribe. On our Mastery Programme, we teach you how to be more productive and balance and prioritise your efforts in order to hit your Target within the time available to you and your Tribe. everyone’s working at the right pace.
*Tribe is another of the 5T’s of the ExtraordinaryPM Framework. Your Tribe is much wider than your team. It is those people you need to build connections with around a shared goal, the Target (another of the 5T’s), in order to get the best from the people around you – whether they’re taking action, controlling risks or delivering a physical product. As part of the ExtraordinaryPM journey, we show you how to lead and influence, inspiring your colleagues, peers and stakeholders to step up and become more effective and engaged. Because building better collaboration is the best way to create real change and measurable impact.
*Thrive is the final part of the ExtraordinaryPM Framework and focusses on taking care of yourself. We often this phrase when considering the work-life balance, but there is so much more to Thrive than just this. Being mindful of how to show up as a leader, choosing how you respond to situations, ensuring you have a support network and protecting yourself professionally through ensuring your project has good governance and decision-making processes are just some of the areas we explore on the ExtraordinaryPM Mastery Programme.
To start your own journey to extraordinary, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org