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How to Accelerate Projects that Drive Innovation and Success

Strategy ExecutionOrganisations today are faced with delivering innovative new products and services in a rapidly changing marketplace, with constantly evolving technology and business requirements.

Despite the pressure to get initiatives to market at increasingly accelerated speeds, they are taking longer, costing more to complete and more time is lapsing before they start generating revenue.

This is in no small part due to the VUCA environment (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) that businesses are now operating in.

To cope with these constraints, today’s leaders of project-based work must have the right skill sets, adaptive approach and responsive mind-set to help them and their organisations navigate an increasingly complex and collaborative environment.

Strategy Execution has partnered with Duke Corporate Education to equip project-based leaders with the skills to better manage this complexity – in which organisations need to adapt project-based work to make it smarter and faster, if they are to drive success.

The Adaptive Strategic Execution Programme (ASEP) has been purposefully designed to provide project-based workers with the mind-set, tool set and skill set to execute critical projects with its eight essential curriculum topics.

New business initiatives are actually a series of projects – and it is this discipline of project management that drives the ability to achieve greater success, faster.

If project teams are not equipped with the skills needed to execute strategy-driven projects, fundamental organisational changes (like faster, go to market initiatives) are much less likely to occur.

The following seven areas show how, by training project teams in the relevant skills and processes to achieve high-quality, consistent results, they will avoid this and ensure the following happens:

Project Management1. Leverage project management

Accelerating the time it takes to get initiatives to the market is down to delivering projects that ensure innovation and success.

Project leaders can obtain the necessary skills and rigour through training which will enable them to achieve high-quality; consistent results in the following ways:

  • More effectively aligning business initiatives with overarching corporate strategy
  • Building better plans, faster, by understanding of all the components
  • Executing faster and more efficiently against those plans, enabling initiatives to achieve consistent success
  • Anticipating potential roadblocks and risks faster by visualising all the ways in which your initiatives interact with others and with the business in general
  • Instilling in their teams the processes and rigour that makes outcomes more predictable and success more repeatable


2. Strategy Execution and Alignment

Training people to ensure that initiatives are aligned with strategy at the outset will also ensure teams are able to maintain that alignment throughout the duration of the project.

They will be able to understand and articulate the part they are playing in delivering the strategy – and manage expectations of those who have a stake in the project outcome.

3. Managing without authority

Relational skills will help team members get work done no matter where they sit in the hierarchy of the organisation, improving the time it takes to get things done through:

  • Negotiation and facilitation skills
  • Interacting with people more persuasively
  • Achieving crucial buy-in
  • Leading change management
  • Communicate up; down and across the organisation

4. Widen your line of vision

Speed requires a clear-eyed and comprehensive understanding of what success will take from the outset.

Leaders of business initiatives need to take a comprehensive survey of all the factors necessary for success in order to:

  • Properly scope out the initiative at the outset, including a thorough analysis of the operational impact of actually implementing, as opposed to the business impact
  • Review all the components required to come together to make the project succeed
  • Periodically track progress to ensure the initiative stays aligned with the overall strategy
  • Account for how their initiative will interact with others, how it will affect other parts of the organisation and how it will impact corporate culture

Innovation and Projects5. Where the risks are

Effective risk management can speed up initiatives the most. Analysing potential risks clarifies what is most important to project success, while at the same time identifies the threats that can derail the project, allowing time to prepare to mitigate them.

Business analysts should be empowered to perform risk assessments, but a culture where everyone feels responsible to speak out is even better.

Risk assessment skills will allow project teams to:

  • See the big picture, not just one piece of it
  • Connect better to the initiative’s overall strategic purposes, in order to better assess emerging risks
  • Identify market variables that could impact an initiative’s success and monitor them regularly
  • Identify deliverables whose delays will have a cascading effect on the rest of the project (internal interdependencies)
  • Identify external interdependencies
  • Develop contingency plans, so that when issues come up, no time is wasted

6. Over communicate

Mistakes usually occur when someone hasn’t communicated effectively enough. Project leaders need to be able to communicate expectations and responsibilities clearly and precisely so teams know they are accountable.

Fostering an atmosphere of over communication will ensure leaders can:

  • Effectively articulate the “big picture” so their teams make decisions in alignment with business strategy
  • Clearly define who owns the plan – who is responsible for checking progress against the plan, as well as communicating assignments and deadlines and keeping others accountable for their deliverables
  • Instil regular and specific communications
  • Ask the right questions so that you make absolutely certain messages are being received as intended

Change Management7. Manage change

Finally, with every initiative undertaken, something is going to change. The impact on the organisation – and the people – needs to be addressed head on. Change management skills allow team members to:

  • Develop an overarching approach for making change happen
  • Articulate a compelling vision for each change
  • Engage stakeholders in support of the change
  • Develop a communications plan for change initiatives
  • Manage employees’ emotional reactions to change

Using this checklist will help to determine the particular skills training that will boost each team member’s ability to fulfil their highest-performing potential.

8. More on innovating

As we have already discussed, to innovate, an organisation must have the capacity to execute strategy through project-based work. Without it, ideas – and their revenue potential, will wither and perish.

Innovation has the potential to lead a company to market domination when employees at all levels possess the freedom to voice ideas, the training to implement and the resources to sustain them.

Building Innovation from The Business Unit Up – The Steps You’re Not Taking Are Holding You Back.

For more insights on how to structure your organisation to drive progress and innovation, read the article: Building Innovation from The Business Unit Up – The Steps You’re Not Taking Are Holding You Back.


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About Rebecca Leitch

Rebecca Leitch
Rebecca Leitch is a marketeer at TwentyEighty Strategy Execution - focused on bringing new project management content for the PM community.

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