Friday, December 26, 2014

Does your Organization Have Too Many Business Initiatives

Prioritization starts with the right mindset. Organizations today are inundated with the sea of information.

Modern businesses can often get trapped into "busyness," overwhelmed with too many projects or change initiatives, and overloaded with the operation and short-term business concerns, what are the root causes of such symptoms, and how to overcome these challenges?

The focus is key. Companies overwhelmed with projects is a common scenario. The root cause of the problem is the lack of connection between strategy and projects. Identifying what generates the most value for the company and expressing that in strategic objectives help managers keep their eyes on what matters. Only initiatives that support the achievement of those objectives should be implemented.

Optimizing the management capacity: That depends on the initiatives, the relationships between them, and the size of the company. Some combinations will be OK, others won't. It all boils down to optimizing the management capacity investments with a keen eye to opportunity costs of all the projects involved.

There are at least four contributing factors to project overwhelming and lack of priority:

(1). Lack of Leadership Effectiveness:  Leadership teams have trouble prioritizing initiatives. The big initiatives all seem important and not doing any of them seems wrong so they bite off more than the organization can chew.
(2). Underestimating Resources: Leadership underestimates the resources necessary to successfully complete each initiative. (Example: HR needs to automate its processes. If you agree to do that, you will need some resources from Legal, IT, Finance, Training and Development at a minimum.)
(3). The ignorance of significant details: The devil is in the details. If three major initiatives all start at the same time they may compete for the exact same resources throughout the year slowing the progress of all
(4). The "whirlwind" of the day to day operations: Organizations are always on and over-complex, there are emerging issues coming out on the daily basis, and it sucks up as many resources as it can regardless of priorities.

Adopt the well-proven strategic planning models focusing on setting employee goals right. There is a lot of evidence that people can't stay focused for long periods of time or focus on too many goals. Several well-known strategic planning models are focusing on giving each employee 2-3 goals that can be done in 90 days. If you give them more time, their sense of urgency falls and the manager's vigilance will be compromised too. If you have 100 people and each of them owns 2-3 specific goals that they could achieve in 90 days, then there are 200-300 goals which can be weaved into a business scope of strategic goals. That is a lot of progress in strategic progress. Managers will see quantitative results and be able to praise or take corrective action quicker. If the goals are scoped right, prioritized right and aligned with the strategic needs of the organization, you'll see more things get done sooner which creates energy, enthusiasm, and momentum. (Caution: When any of these individual goals requires resources from other departments, the goal will have to become a shared goal. Someone in that department will also have to be assigned.)

Prioritization starts with a right mindset -first of all, corporate leaders have to craft an executable strategy, a good strategy can map business goals with employee goals systematically, laser focuses on the most critical challenge business needs to overcome, and also engage employees by co-setting their work goals which are stretch out, but not too stressful. A high performing business can manage both their talent and resource effectively via prioritization and optimization  


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