In today’s constantly shifting business landscape, the thriving organisations will be those that are nimble enough to adapt at the pace of change. To create this fast-paced adaptability, business leaders need to establish and maintain a meaningful connection with their people. The most powerful way to create that connection is by engaging them in the business’s strategic journey.
Projects — the right kind of projects — are the best vehicle for undertaking this journey. They allow you to be intentional about engaging your people in shaping the business and the workplace for the future that it aspires to. By using a project mindset to adapt and evolve the business, you create a bridge that connects the business to its people.
A project mindset defined
By ‘project mindset’, I mean a strategic approach where projects are employed to consistently and persistently adapt to the uncertainty and change that is endemic in a business environment. Constant strategic project activity purposefully turns strategic intent into implementation activity.
These projects are not big transformational undertakings; they are targeted initiatives that make meaningful progress toward your business’s strategic objectives. These projects have very specific attributes:
- Short-duration, hard-hitting activities;
- Specific strategic outcome targets;
- Undertaken by a small cross-functional team with the greatest knowledge about the improvement opportunity being pursued; and are
- Prioritised based on their business value.
Strategic projects can take many forms, but their most important quality is that they are focused on shaping the business’s future. They can be as specific as an incremental operational improvement, or as exploratory as an experiment that tests a hypothesis to determine its business value.
The power of a project mindset lies in maintaining a portfolio of strategic projects that are constantly shaping the business’s future. That portfolio is made up of the highest priority projects that the organisation has the capacity to successfully complete and is regularly adjusted based on current project results, strategic importance and emerging opportunities.
This brings the future-focused work of strategy into the present and takes specific, tangible action that’s directly connected to your strategic objectives.
A two-way bridge
As previously stated, strategic projects are a bridge that meaningfully connects a business to its people. They are a ‘two-way bridge’ that:
- Connect strategic intent with operational action and activity. You connect strategic thinking with doing but you also use operational activity to inform your strategic thought.
- Connect strategic goals with the knowledge and expertise of your people. This puts the business’s perspective on strategic value in the hands of the people that are on the frontline of creating that value. But it also taps into the depth and breadth of that capability to understand where business value might lie.
- Link performance benefits for the company with the psychological benefits that create a high-performing workplace. The meaningful progress that is generated by strategic projects creates the sort of workplace where people are motivated to create more progress.
- Connect business purpose to the work your people do. This creates shared purpose where the daily work you do is an expression of your overarching purpose and your people are motivated by the knowledge that they’re making a meaningful contribution to that purpose.
The future of the workplace is the future of work
We’re entering an era where exceptional business will be the product of exceptional workplaces. Those exceptional workplaces will be driven by the effectiveness with which you engage and motivate your people. Strategic projects are the best opportunity to foster engagement and motivation because they give people meaningful work to be engaged in, and a higher purpose to be motivated by.