Otherwise known as strategic execution, projects considered and delivered within the context of the overall business are critical if businesses are to meet the increasingly competitive and complex demands of today’s business world.
The success of a project has always been viewed in terms of its delivery on time, budget and target – but now its success should also be considered in terms of its ability to deliver on a strategy.
We have previously discussed how to measure and report the strategic impact of projects. This week we look further at why we should. As Tim Wasserman, Chief Learning Officer for TwentyEighty Strategy Execution, explains: “Shockingly, few organisations are measuring projects in terms of their strategic impact. Established businesses are finding it difficult to ensure strategic initiatives are able to make their target impact – largely due to a lack of alignment of projects with strategic execution.”
Successfully aligning and executing project-based work requires skills. To continue to foster alignment, leaders need to evaluate teams across a range of technical and relational skills that support strong strategy execution alignment.
Each project should in some way relate directly or indirectly to a strategic intention of the organisation, validated to fit into one or more strategic initiatives – or put another way, by tracking the current strategies and validating the alignment between these and the projects.
Essential to this is the ‘killing’ of projects that no longer align with current strategic thinking, regardless of whether the project is delivered on time, budget or target.
And equal to that is the need for a project manager to become part of the business, rather than remaining a separate entity.
Ensuring sufficient talent management in an organisation by providing the necessary business and leadership skills is the key to strategic implementation. From the technical project management skills, to the leadership skills and the strategic business and management skills – all are required in order to achieve alignment.
Creating Strategic Thinkers
The good news organisations that focus on training people at all job levels to think more strategically will gain a distinct advantage over their competitors. Strategic project management training creates a culture of thinkers who not only know how to get things done on time and on budget, but who also see the big picture and their role in successful outcomes.
For project managers in these organisations, instead of trying to meet a deadline for their one piece of the puzzle, they know what the completed puzzle should look like and how the puzzle fits into the organisation’s bigger picture.
Project managers who are aware of this interconnection – and have the proper skill package of technical and relational skills can often be difficult to find – but can easily be trained from within.
Project management training that includes developing a strategic perspective, offered across all job roles, creates a corporate-wide roster of strategic thinkers who can help projects better align with a company’s purpose and objectives.
Trained properly, a project team can become a passionate driving force behind projects that align with long-term strategy.
Increased visibility to the strategy helps answer the “why” – and this can help build trust and confidence in the organisation’s direction and leads to improved employee engagement
Across-the-board strategic project management development training also provides the “what” of a project—the parameters, importance and value of their role.
Additionally, strategic project management training fosters better communication – and better communication across all levels has value.
Senior managers wanting to improve top-down/bottom-up communication, are often unready to accept input from lower-ranking team members. Strategic project management training empowers project leaders to drive productive conversations across different departments and across all roles.
Strategic training also eases transitions and helps retain top talent, which is less expensive than hiring externally.
Finally, enabling leadership at all levels drives innovation, breaks down barriers and enables organisations to proactively identify and resolve issues that can impact successful achievement of strategic objectives.
You can read more on building strategic leaders with the following blog: Building adaptive leaders who can get critical work done.