The Trade-Offs Involved in Executing a New Project

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on March 5, 2010

After tackling a program, project, or business development problem, try a different approach to evaluating your efforts. Revert to the manufacturing mantra: input, through-put, and output. Assume, for example, your team has just put together an important proposal for a customized product prototype:

• Input includes all corporate resources engaged in the work, such as the personnel directly involved and their skills, knowledge, expertise, ideas, and technical knowhow.

• Through-put is the combination of activities that take place when your team members undertake the task at hand, integrating implicit and explicit knowledge and material to get the job done.

• Output can be several things, but in this case let’s say it is getting the design and project specs to the client on time. It can also mean that the project was approved and is ready to go into development.

In evaluating success, however, you need to look at more than whether you delivered the proposal on time or even got a signed contract to move forward. Stop and revisit the work process flow. In this case let’s say you find that half the team is not talking to each other, Harry and Mel have quit or requested transfers, and in attempting to meet the deadline the project manager needed to add overtime hours, which blew the budget.

So, were you really successful? Next time, remember you are operating within a broad complex system where anything can and will happen and predictability will only take you so far. Before you get started with a new project, make sure you’ve thought about what potential trade-offs could be involved. What are you willing to "give" in order to "get" your desired outcome? And how can you satisfy one goal without sacrificing others?

Mallary Tytel
President and Founder
Healthy Workplaces
Sioux Falls, S.D.

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