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How To: Socialize Your Project Goal

Once your goal is clearly articulated, socialize your goal with the following three groups of people to gain buy in and support.  Members of all three groups can come from inside or outside the company, but ideally they’re inside.  The three groups are:

  • Senior Executives affected by the change; ask your Project Sponsor for names; these most likely be members of your future Executive Steering Committee (ESC) – more on this team in a later blog post
  • Project Team members (working level team)
  • Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) affected by the change (ask team members for names)

Ask the Senior Executives to validate that the project goal is appropriate, fits within the overall strategic plan of the company, and fits with the overall priorities of resources within the company.  This information will help you better explain it to others.

Also, be sure to continually ask the Senior Executives “why” to better understand why this goal is important to the company.

After the Senior Executives validate the project goal, the next step is to have your project team members and others affected by the change validate that this goal is reasonable and attainable once your project team has been formed.

If you don’t have buy-in from these three groups, they won’t take ownership and you will not have an optimized team.  Make sure the whole team is truly on board before moving ahead.  If you run into a roadblock, ask for help from your Project Sponsor.

Remember, during this process, expect there to be differing opinions that will result in changes and/or tweaks to your project goal.  Although it might be frustrating and time consuming, it’s better to get these differences identified and addressed sooner rather than later in order to gain alignment and build a good foundation for change.  This is what helps to minimize the politics that surround projects.  Keep in mind that any changes made to the project goal must be re-routed through these 3 groups as needed to keep everyone on the same page and aligned.

The above article is an excerpt from my recently published book, ‘How to Launch a New Product Faster

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How to: Document a Project Goal

Why It’s Important to Document a Project Goal

Don’t underestimate the importance of a clear goal.  A clear goal sets the pace, tone and direction for the entire project team, and helps to manage expectations of senior management.  If your project goal is too broad, too many different interpretations can happen leading to disparate team directions.  If your goal is too narrow, creativity may be blocked.

Once it is defined, make sure the entire team has a clear understanding of the overall team’s project goal.  They’ll use this knowledge to make decisions and tradeoffs within their own functional areas.  By understanding the team’s project goal, your individual team members can make more informed decisions and trade offs that are aligned with the overall team goal.

In her book, Real People, Real Change, Donna Strother Highfill says, “As change warriors, it is our job to help employees identify and agree upon one common goal, and then create a new road to get there.”  This is the basis of change management.

How to Document a Project Goal

To begin drafting your project goal, meet with the champion of the new project (the project sponsor).  This is the person who is the overall champion of the new project within your company, the person who has the most to loose if the product doesn’t get launched.  To clearly articulate your project goal, work with your project sponsor and make sure your goal is specific and includes the following:

  • Rationale (why it’s important)
  • What will be delivered (functional view)
  • With what financial results, short- and long-term views (revenue results)
  • Within what time period, short- and long-term (by when it needs to be accomplished)
  • Based on what assumptions (parameters)

Make sure your goal is achievable by checking it against the project’s:

  • Staffing Availability
  • Funding
  • Technology Capabilities
  • Overall Timing
  • Strategic ‘Fit’ within the Company

Done?  Great, but there’s one more, very important, step.

Once finished, the next step is to properly socialize and solidify your goal with those affected by this goal and those who oppose it.  More on this in my next blog post.

The above article is an excerpt from my recently published book, ‘How to Launch a New Product Faster

The Apprehension of Adopting to the New Facebook Fan Page Timeline

You’re not a high-tech business these days unless you have a Facebook Fan Page.  But I have to say, adopting to the new FB timeline for my consulting business fan page has brought on a little apprehension.

Why?  Well, I didn’t really know how the new format would look and what the new features would do, but at the same time, I was really looking forward to exploring a new way to present my business to the online world.

Well, today’s the day… I got ‘Timelined’… and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the new layout and the new features.

I love the large space given to the cover image.  It’s so visually appealing and allows me to instantly present a clear visual about my business.  I also like that the placement of the tabs is more intuitive, and it just seems easier for people’s eyes to fall on them versus when they were on the left nav.

Check out how these companies are using their FB Fan Page to their advantage:

Nike , Dove

My challenge now is to think of more creative ways to use this big space and the available tabs, especially since there’s been a big shift towards representing your business with photos (Pinterest anyone?) and videos.

So, come back often and see what changes my fan page has undergone as I explore and try out the different options available.

Why Do Most New Product Ideas Never Get Implemented?

Why is it that most new product ideas never go anywhere?  Are never implemented? Even when they could positively change the direction of a company?

I believe it is because these ideas are not properly managed.  And what’s managed is what actually happens.

 Lee Iacocca said, “We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.”

 In the book Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, they discuss the idea that anyone can think of new ideas. “But unless you translate big thoughts into concrete steps for action, they’re pointless.  Without execution, the breakthrough thinking breaks down, learning adds no value, people don’t meet their stretch goals, and the revolution stops dead in its tracks.  What you get is change for the worse, because failure drains the energy from your organization.  Repeated failure destroys it.”

Do you think people can learn to become a change agent – a person who can implement these big ideas?

I do.  Especially if they are the type who readily adapts to change, who understands the need for diplomacy, and is a natural leader.

I Know I Should Be Using Social Media

Yes, we’ve all heard the great stories of companies that use social media and make millions of dollars by promoting certain events or sale items.  And we’ve all had the same reaction….I need to do Social Media.

So, here I am, learning as much as I can about social media.  I am working for a client to help her launch into SM and in doing so realized that she didn’t have some of the basics down.  What is her mission statement? Who is her target audience? What are her marketing goals for the year?

Without knowing these things, it’s pretty hard to start using Twitter and Facebook.  You just won’t know what to talk about and you’ll misuse your time.

Here’s how I look at it.  Social media is great, AND, social media is just a series of communication vehicles that you can use to build a stronger relationship with your target audience.

What’s different about them, however, is that you can also use them to collect information from your target audience…in real time!  You can gather all sorts of data:

  • age
  • name
  • location (city, state, zip)
  • product preferences
  • product needs
  • beliefs about your company and your products
  • ideas on how to improve your products
  • level of loyalty
  • reasons why they would/would not recommend you

What fabulous, free market research!  As with anything, you need to take it with a grain of salt and make sure the resonders are representative of your target audience.  But if anything, you’ll get customer insights that you may not have had before.

So, thinking of using social media?  Do your homework first and solidify your company vision, product positioning, target audience and marketing goals, then go on to see how social media tools can be used to help you reach these targets and gain new customer insights.

Here is a blog I follow that I always find insightful:  http://blog.hubspot.com/  Enjoy!

Selecting A New Website Vendor

Wow…what a whirlwind of information.  I’ve just gone through the process of picking new website template and hosting companies.  So, what I thought would be a week-long process took quite a bit longer.  I had been using Network Solutions for my consulting website and I liked their product, but I thought I could get a better deal by looking around.  With Network Solutions, I used a website template which was very easy to use, and they provided the hosting so the set-up was very quick and painless.  When I asked other business people which vendor they used for their websites, a number of people had mentioned WordPress. 

 Now I had only thought of WordPress for blogs.  What I didn’t realize was that they actually have 2 sides to their business.  One side (www.wordpress.com ) provides free blogs and blog templates, and the other side (www.wordpress.org ) provides free website templates, blog templates and a content management system.  You do have to find your own hosting vendor, but they partner with a number of good, affordable vendors and the process is well integrated into their website deployment process.

 The more people I talked to about WordPress, the more fanatics I saw.  It was really something.  Everytime I talked to someone who uses WordPress it was like I was talking to the person who created it….that’s how much loyalty they had.  So, I jumped in and gave it a shot.  It was a whole new world of terminology, capabilities, etc and I very quickly was over my head.  But, the fanatics talked me into staying and here I am — a person who has created a website and blog on WordPress and has lived to tell about it. 

Now that I’ve gone through the process, I’m glad to be on the other side, but I feel like there’s still a mountain to climb if I want to learn about more advanced capabilities (more plug-ins, widgets….see, I’m getting the lingo down pretty well!).  What makes me feel OK about all this is that there is a huge user community out there that’s willing to help.  I got a lot of help from a Meet Up group on WordPress (thanks Sallie, Noel, and Anca) and someone tipped me off that I could google most any question (the more specific the better) and see how other people have handled the same issue. 

So there, I’m not alone in this WordPress journey and I can now focus on the content of my blog….creating a forum for fellow marketers to discuss new trends, emerging technology and great case studies. More to follow on these topics in my next entry.