Life used to be simple. Leaders got together once a year and set priorities for the business, and those became goals and objectives. Departments developed project proposals, with the “best” of those proposals (or the ones with the best sales pitch) approved as the initiatives that would help to achieve the stated goals and objectives. Except that really wasn’t so simple, was it?
The trick is aligning all that execution with strategy
In this not-so-distant-or-simple-past, the projects approved rarely aligned with what was really needed. And they were only ever managed to the triple constraint of time, cost and scope. Which meant that scant attention was paid to how well they aligned to the goals (more on that in a later post). More projects were usually approved than could be delivered, changes happened throughout delivery, and goals and objectives were frequently missed. It was a broken system, and fixing it meant that something had to change.
You need both top-down and bottom-up controls
The good news is that those changes are now happening, with two separate, but related things. First, planning is shifting from an annual cycle to something more frequent, which will be covered in our next post. Additionally, organizations are now seeking to better connect the work being done – execution, with the work that is needed – strategy.
Recently there has been a lot of talk of evolving from projects to products. The idea is that you are more solidly connecting the work you are doing with the purpose for that work – you are investing and managing where the benefit will be delivered. This happens by decomposing strategy into products, programs, or initiatives. That’s the level where funding and governance happens – shifting those elements higher up or closer to the strategy piece, and then teams are given the freedom to define and deliver the execution of the work.