Business execution: Tips for getting things done
Define what “done” looks like.
As part of the quarterly strategic planning process, we see too many companies choosing projects to improve their business without clearly defining the end point. One of the keys to business execution success is to specify very clearly what the completed project looks like (or the specific milestone that you intend to reach this quarter), and enter a specific due date for each project. It needs to be obvious exactly what “done” looks like, so you know precisely when to “pop the champagne cork” to celebrate your achievements.
Scope out each project.
For most strategic decisions, we don’t need to deploy complicated project management methodologies (Gantt charts, critical paths) – but it is still important to think through the key components of each project before you begin. Note down all the information, people, and resources you will need to complete the project. Then scope out the key steps – the big things (individual sub-projects) that need to be accomplished in order for the overall company project to completed and assign due dates for each.
Single point accountability.
Who is the best person to ensure each project or sub-project gets done? Assign accountability to one person per project. Our golden rule: many people can be involved, but only one person can be held accountable. The project leader makes sure everything “gets done” - it does not necessarily mean they do it all themselves. You may be leader in some projects and a follower in others.
Separate projects from tasks.
Projects are the bigger, longer-term things. Typically they take more than a month to execute – and you track your progress every week toward their ultimate achievement (business execution software is great for this). Whereas tasks are the related short-term actions that you will check off in the coming week or two to move each project forward.
The 1 Thing.
Big projects have many tasks, and it can be overwhelming to try to think through them all. Don’t worry about listing every tiny little thing that needs to be done either – just ask yourself this important question every week, “What is the #1 thing I need to get done this week in order to move this project forward?” Enter that as a task on your business execution software. If everyone gets their “1 Thing” done every week your business execution will be in good shape.
Set yourself up to succeed. Your “business as usual” activities still need to get done, and “stuff” always seems to distract you from your projects. Therefore, make sure you set realistic outcomes and project due dates that take into account “stuff happens” - yet you will still achieve your milestones by the due date. Think of your project deadline as being a promise, and your personal integrity demands that you keep your promises!