We recently teamed up with our partners at Pravda Media Group to learn more about their StarAlign project management methodology and how to action it using Teamwork. The ideation phase is crucial to the success of any project — but it often isn’t outlined as clearly or as efficiently as it should be. Instead, many people dive into their projects with only a vague idea of what they’re trying to achieve, and even less of an idea of whether or not they’ve actually achieved it. This is, as they say in the project management biz, Not Good. It results in uncertainty, leads to less effective decision-making, and, at worst, outright project failure. In order to reach the desired outcome, you and your team need to be working together in the same direction, i.e. towards a common goal. And to do that, you need to invest in the ideation phase.
Here’s why — and how. Setting your goals: the Why and the KPI
At its heart, ideation comes down to two things: the Why and the KPI.
The Why is intrinsically linked with principle #1 of StarAlign’s five guiding principles: focus on (business) impact. Think of it this way: if the business impact is the north star of your business, the Why is the north star of your project. They need to go together, and they both need to be steering you in the same direction. Every project needs to have a clear Why. It’s the business justification underpinning the work. You need to be able to clearly explain why you’re doing the project you’re doing; what the expected impact is; and what the high-level view of it looks like. The Why also needs to be outlined in a simple, easily-digestible way, so that everyone who needs to actually execute the project can understand the purpose behind it. That means no jargon, no fluff — it should be specific and concise.
To ensure you are specific, the Ideation phase needs to include the essential KPI element as well. That’s because if you have a specific goal in mind, you need to know from the beginning how to assess whether you have successfully achieved that goal or not. How will you know if you have fulfilled the goal of the project? What are your metrics? What does success look like for this project? This is fundamental, especially when you’re trying to distill big picture business goals from senior management down into actionable, tangible items like projects and tasks for your team. If management don’t know how to measure success, it means that they’re not being clear and granular enough in setting their goals — and they need to go back to the drawing board to rethink the whole thing. For example:
Bad goal: “Increase in awareness.”
Good goal: “Increase of 50% in positive mentions in social media, based on sentiment analysis by this specific tool.”
Outlining the KPIs early in the Ideation phase is also indispensable for ensuring that every single person working on the project is aligned and on the same page. By the end of the ideation phase, you should be able to answer these three questions with a resounding “yes”:
Have you clearly defined and communicated the business rationale to all stakeholders?
2. Have you outlined KPIs that will enable your team to have a clear understanding of the goal of the project?
3. Do all stakeholders have the ability to do an honest evaluation of the project’s success using these agreed KPIs?
So with these goals in mind, how do you create a solid structure around this — often fluffy — phase? And, once you have it mapped out, how do you then translate that top-level strategy into everyday tactical elements? That’s where Teamwork comes in. Ideating and planning in Teamwork Spaces
Now that you know how integral it is to have your Why clearly outlined and documented — both for your business at large and each project in particular — you need a dedicated space to do that documenting. Part of the problem with how most organizations set their company vision and goals is that those discussions are happening in leadership meetings, email threads, conference calls… they’re scattered across multiple places and often aren’t clearly recorded. Not only does this make it difficult to have one single source of truth regarding your overall company vision, but it also makes it hard to break the goals down into actionable projects and items.
Enter Teamwork Spaces.
Teamwork Spaces is the perfect place to outline your company goals and vision. With collaborative editing, comments, and a seamless integration with Teamwork Projects, your entire leadership team can outline your organization’s overarching strategic plans. And as those plans naturally evolve, it’s easy to update them with every iteration to ensure they stay reflective and up to date. This also allows you to keep your strategy at an elevated level, free from the noise of the essential everyday work. With your organization’s living vision document in its own dedicated space, you’re better equipped to make sure every project, across every department, moves that overall vision forward. And with the integration between Teamwork Spaces and Teamwork Projects, you can bridge the gap between the strategic elements and the tactical execution by linking spaces to projects (one or many), embedding task lists, and more. Teamwork Spaces is also a great space for executives to self-serve on key project elements. For example, a Progress Reports page may include details of a mitigation plan for a KPI trending red. Here’s an example of how you can structure a space for better ideation: Cover page: A high-level description of the challenge.
Why page: A detailed explanation of the challenge or opportunity at hand.
PI page: Outline a clear and easy way to measure success in this instance, including goals, measurement or KPIs, methodology, and tools.
Stakeholders page: Detail everyone who is involved with, or has influence over, the project, their role, and contact details.
Progress reports: A page where periodic progress reports can be published.
By keeping all of these essential strategic elements in one central place, you can help to keep your team aligned, your stakeholders updated, and your project on track.