A great way to come up with a laundry list of potential projects for the year or quarter is through an exercise I learned at GE called ‘Workout.’ And while this list can be exhaustive, your resources probably aren’t. As a result, this list serves as a starting point from which you’ll determine critical projects, what order they should be in, and move forward with them in order to make the Vivid Vision (formerly Painted Picture) a reality.
Have your leadership team come up with a list of all the projects you could complete as a company in the upcoming year. I love using the Post-It note exercise again for this. It draws out a long list of all the potential things you could do and it gives everyone a chance to be heard. Categorize all the projects that you touch on by business area (sales, marketing and so on).
Once you have all the projects categorized, it’s time to vote. Count the number of projects in each area and divide by the number of people on your team. Give each person a rounded number of projects for which they’ll be held responsible.
For example, if there are twenty-two projects listed in marketing, and six people on the leadership team, then there are four votes each.
Then, have each person come up and vote on which projects they think are highest impact and most urgent in terms of the annual goals you’ve outlined. If they get four votes each, they can distribute them however they wish: four projects, one vote each, two projects, two votes each, one project with four votes and so on.
Once that’s done, tally up the votes on each project and rank them for each category. Throw out any projects that don’t get any votes. In fact, I usually try to limit the projects being committed to two to three maximum, per area, and fifteen to twenty maximum for a company for one year.
Remember: Focus on the ‘critical few’ versus the ‘important many’.
► Map Them
Once the most critical projects are identified, place them into a simple spreadsheet with these columns for each project:
· Project name
· Project number
· Goal supported
· Number of votes (helps get rid of a few more when you see how overwhelming it looks to get a few done in one year)
· Quarter start date
· Month project ends
· Cost/savings (NOT including current staff salaries)
· Days until completion
· Business areas (one column for each; e.g. IT, finance, sales, and so forth)
Show all the areas that will have to be built or implemented
Once this task is completed, everyone on the team should have an overall view, which will allow him or her to remove a few more projects that looked important, but now in the overall scheme, can wait a year.