“First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.

– Aristotle, Ancient Greek Philosopher

Project planning and execution is more important than ever. The narrative of an organization’s strategy constantly evolves as competitors compete, innovators innovate, technology disrupts, customers change their fickle tastes, cash grows and shrinks, novel reframing floods sunlight on a once dark forest, teams build muscle, and new ideas germinate. Context changes faster today than ever, requiring organizations to be agile. While on the one hand, strategic leaders need to drive laser-focused execution of a plan and strategy, on the other hand, strategic leaders need to be vigilant of new data that can alter the strategic landscape and existing project plans. And, when project plans change, strategic leaders need to course-correct an organization’s or team’s collective actions without losing a beat.

Planning sets the course of change for an organization, while projects embody the actions that realize the change. If your organization is strong at project planning and execution, then your organization has the muscle and capacity to seek out and realize value continuously.

Here are the core project planning tools we’ll go over to effectively and efficiently execute essential projects.

1. A Project Plan
The difference between a weak and strong project plan can mean millions or more to the bottom line. Strategic leaders must understand all the essential elements, best practices, and pitfalls of a project plan. We even provide a free project plan template to get you started.

2. Roadmaps
Every company function should have a multi-year roadmap that encapsulates how the organization will create more value for customers, end-users, and the company. We cover the major roadmaps and best practices and include a free PowerPoint roadmap template to get you started.

3. High Performing Teams
High-performing teams improve the delivery and impact of projects. The way to develop a high-performing team shouldn’t be a mystery. Learn about the conditions needed for high-performing teams, including the right people, the right mission, a nurturing environment, and the necessary resources. And be sure to download your free project team charter to get the team off on the right footing.

4. Agile
Agile is the go-to methodology for ensuring project teams are lean and consistently focused on creating value. Agile is about self-managing teams constantly collaborating through iterative sprints while always prioritizing outputs.

5. Jobs-to-be-Done Framework
The JTBD framework is excellent for putting yourself in the customer’s shoes to understand what they are trying to accomplish. Project outcomes are always better if designed from the end customer’s perspective.

6. Requirements & Use Cases
Developing strong requirements and use cases improves project outcomes and the productivity of project teams. Ensure you understand the ins and outs and best practices of developing strong requirements and use cases.

7. Prototyping & Piloting
Many Big Bang projects fail because they don’t anticipate issues that come up in actual usage. Prototyping and piloting reduce the risks of projects while providing rich feedback to improve the impact of a project.

8. Project Management Triangle
Strategic leaders spend a lot of their time on project governance, and the project management triangle is the framework they often use, trading off time, resources, scope, and quality of projects.

9. Reuse
Reuse is the often-overlooked turbocharger to project productivity. The more you can reuse what has already been made, the more project teams can focus on a project’s unique requirements.

10. Change Management Model
Change is difficult, but most projects necessitate changing people’s behavior. The McKinsey change management model drives the systemic behavioral change often asked of organizations. Building the change management muscle in a business will pay dividends in agility.

 Learn more about Joe Newsum, the author of all this free content and a McKinsey Alum. I provide a suite of coaching and training services to realize the potential in you, your team, and your business. Learn more about me and my coaching philosophy.
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