Quick audit for team or project priorities: Auditing for value, relevance, and balance:
After identifying your highest priority objectives (instructions here), or after writing your statement of purpose for a particular project and identifying the project’s key objectives & metrics, ask yourself the following questions, ideally together with your team. The discussion is as valuable as the outcome.
Quick Audit Questions:
Aligned: Are all of our key objectives / major projects aligned and consistent with our organization’s mission, vision, and strategy? Will they positively contribute to the achievement of organizational goals; the mission, vision, and execution of corporate strategy?
Strategic: Will our key objectives (taken together) make our organization stronger and more competitive?
Results: Is each goal results-based, i.e., specifically designed to achieve a concrete business result, outcome, or deliverable?
Sufficient: Taken together, are our goals enough, i.e., enough to get the job done &/or ambitious enough?
SMART: Is each one a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Actionable (goals can be challenging but they must be achievable, realistic), Relevant (strategically important), and Time-based (milestones or deadlines)?
Stakeholder Balance: Do they, taken together, address the needs of all of our organization’s key stakeholders; and certainly not serve one stakeholder at the expense of others?
Time Horizon Balance: Do they, taken together, express an appropriate balance between short-term and long-term concerns? If not, do we have a good reason for this imbalance?
Talent & Asset Utilization: Do they utilize and leverage our team’s talent, organizational capabilities &/or other organizational assets to the fullest extent possible?
Worthy / Ethical: Are these objectives aligned with our core values; do they balance performance and values; and will each one be something we can be proud of? Would we be happy to communicate them to our employees, other departments, our customers, shareholders, the senior management team, our families, or even the newspapers? Would we be willing to stand up for and stand behind each of these items if questioned or challenged?
WIIFM: If we contribute to the accomplishment of all of these objectives, if we are successful in executing our plan, will it make us better managers, leaders, and business people; will it make the company stronger and thereby contribute to our job security; will we learn something thereby sustaining our employability?
Start with brief discussions, followed by Yes/No answers. Whenever you answer No, go back to the drawing board. Should you delete the item (the objective or project) from your priority list or re-write/reformulate it to make it more relevant and appropriate?
If you are convinced a project is important but unsure precisely how, you may need to do some additional research to check your intuition, confirm your understanding, validate your theory.
As in all things, you must pay attention to (i) your organization’s unique mission, vision, strategy, and values, and (ii) the unique demands of the situation. For example, there will be times when your organization’s focus is primarily long-term, and other times when the focus must—at least temporarily—be short-term. Over the long term, however, there must be some balance between short-term and long-term focus.
Filling out your “strategy map” (high level summary of your big picture – see here) aids this process.
Over time, using this little audit practice will help improve your “big picture” perspective, and maintain your skills, employability, and strategic relevance to your organization.
This is part of a four part series on prioritizing and alignment:
- Setting priorities: 2 x 2 grid shortcut
- Aligning goals with organizational objectives
- Aligning teams
- Auditing your priorities
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