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5 critical questions for cooking up your innovation objectives
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5 critical questions for cooking up your innovation objectives

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Does your innovation project have clear objectives? Is the whole team on the same page about what you’re trying to achieve? Is everyone singing from the same song book when describing the project to …

Does your innovation project have clear objectives? Is the whole team on the same page about what you’re trying to achieve? Is everyone singing from the same song book when describing the project to your stakeholders?

Short, sharp objectives that are easy to remember will make it much easier for your team to stay on track. You’ll speed up decision making, and avoid miscommunication when everyone is on the same page. You’re also much more likely to deliver on time, and on budget, when your objectives are crystal clear.

This might sound like common sense, but often I work with clients where the objectives are muddy, communication is inconsistent, and decision making is stalled. These are all warning signs of a project that is destined to fail. These failures can often be traced back to ineffective project objectives.

This guide covers five critical questions for cooking up your innovation objectives.

Are you reviewing your innovation objectives ahead of your next strategy workshop? You can download our guide to the top 10 tips for effective strategy workshops:

http://www.zumbara.com.au/strategy-workshop-guide.html

Published in: Business, Self Improvement

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  • 1. 5 critical questions When cooking up your innovation objectives
  • 2. Cooking up your innovation objectives Does your innovation project have clear objectives? Is the whole team on the same page about what you’re trying to achieve? Is everyone singing from the same song book when describing the project to your stakeholders? Short, sharp objectives that are easy to remember will make it much easier for your team to stay on track. You’ll speed up decision making, and avoid miscommunication when everyone is on the same page. You’re also much more likely to deliver on time, and on budget, when your objectives are crystal clear. This might sound like common sense, but often I work with clients where the objectives are muddy, communication is inconsistent, and decision making is stalled. These are all warning signs of a project that is destined to fail. These failures can often be traced back to ineffective project objectives.
  • 3. Cooking up your innovation objectives Does your innovation project have clear objectives? Is the whole team on the same page about what you’re trying to achieve? Is everyone singing from the same song book when describing the project to your stakeholders? Short, sharp objectives that are easy to remember will make it much easier for your team to stay on track. You’ll speed up decision making, and avoid miscommunication when everyone is on the same page. You’re also much more likely to deliver on time, and on budget, when your objectives are crystal clear. This might sound like common sense, but often I work with clients where the objectives are muddy, communication is inconsistent, and decision making is stalled. These are all warning signs of a project that is destined to fail. These failures can often be traced back to ineffective project objectives. Critical questions when setting your project objectives 
  • 4.
  • 5. What are we trying to get done? What’s cooking for our next project?
  • 6.  What are we trying to get done? When you host a barbecue, it’s always a relief to get the main course on the table, but the night doesn't finish when the food is served. Sure, you want to serve up the main course at a reasonable hour, without burning the meat. You also want your guests to enjoy themselves – to enjoy the conversation, the food, the drink, and the music. Innovation projects are no different. If you implement a new email system, it’s great to see the new system go live, and to press “send” on that first email. The true measure of success though is how people use the new email system. Is it easy to use? Is it syncing on your phone? Are people reading their emails? Are people actioning their emails? Are your inboxes overflowing with spam and cat videos? Is the new system improving productivity or bogging people down? Ultimately, your aim will never be solely ‘to put in a new system’. The outcome will be to increase productivity, time savings, cost savings, customers, revenue, and so on.
  • 7.
  • 8. Are we all on the same page?
  • 9.  Are we all on the same page? Ask around. “What are we trying to get done?” When you have a clear project aim, you should be hear the same answer from every team member, and every stakeholder. If different people have different views on what your project is all about, someone is in for a rude shock. Translating your project aim into a one-liner will make it much easier to keep everyone on the same page. Here are a few examples we prepared earlier: • Our aim is to automate the sign-up process to reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction • Our aim is to automate the sign-up process to reduce risk and close an audit item • Our aim is to automate the sign-up process and increase sales
  • 10. How are we eating the elephant?
  • 11.
  • 12.  How are we eating the elephant? If you’re going to eat an elephant, there’s only one way to go about it. One bite at a time. Countless innovation projects fail every year because teams try to do too much at once. Break down your project into bite-size chunks. What are the five key things we need to do, to make this project succeed? These five key things translate to your project objectives. Keep it manageable by sticking to a maximum of 5-8 project objectives. You can break down each objective into tasks as part of your planning process, but stick to five key objectives to keep your team focussed.
  • 13.
  • 14. Are our objectives crystal clear?
  • 15.  Are our objectives crystal clear? Setting project objectives is similar to any form of strategic planning or goal setting. Effective objectives are clear and tangible. the SMART method is always a good rule of thumb. You want to set objectives that are: Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-bound S M A R T
  • 16. Specific If you set yourself a goal to ‘cook dinner’, that might seem straight forward, but how do you know your dinner was a success? How do you know it was worth the effort? How do you plan to make sure you have the right ingredients, tools, and skills to make the dinner you want? We all have different tastes, and the reality is you wouldn't be satisfied with just anything for dinner. You could serve up a charred, dried out, overcooked steak. You'd be able to say you, ‘cooked dinner,’ but it's unlikely your dinner guests would think the meal was a success. If you know your dinner guests love fresh seafood, you might set a more effective, more specific goal such as to, ‘Cook tasty paella that all my guests love.’ Now you have an idea of what ingredients you'll need and the quality standard you need to meet. S
  • 17. Measurable How much paella do you need to make? If you have 10 guests coming to dinner, but you only cook enough for four then your meal isn't going to be a success. It's also extremely important to set quality-related goals. ‘All my guests love it’ isn't quite a measurable goal, but if you aim for everyone to compliment the meal or come back for seconds, then you've got two ways to measure quality. M
  • 18. Achievable Different people have different approaches to this one. The general consensus, though, is that the most effective way to set goals is to make objectives that are achievable but still challenging. Setting your goals to be too easy will not motivate staff. If your goal is to cook two minute noodles you're not likely to be terribly motivated, nor will you be particularly looking forward to the resulting reaction from your dinner guests. You're likely to procrastinate and not put in as much effort to the little things like setting the table, matching your meal with good wine, choosing the right music to set the scene (I know, I know, I'm not sure what music and wine would be appropriate for a two minute noodle dinner party either, but you get the picture). Setting your goals too high will also cause staff not to be motivated. If you've been inspired by your favourite TV cooking show and have decided on a croque en bouche or soufflé for dessert, you're again likely to procrastinate because you don't know where to start. You may even be thinking, 'What's the point in trying - this is going to be hopeless.' You'll be so distracted trying to produce this extravagant result that you'll run out of time to choose the wine, set the table, and find the right mood music. Sound familiar? You want to set your objectives to stretch your team without breaking them! A
  • 19. Relevant It’s important to make sure your project aims are in sync with where the company is headed. Demonstrate how your project is helping to achieve your Key Performance Indicators. It’s also important to make sure each project deliverable is in sync with the overall project aim. One common scenario with project objectives is that people may want to add extra bells and whistles that suit their own needs, but these extras don’t always align to your project aim. Include these erroneous objectives at your own peril. Focus is critical to your success, and these will often become dangerous (although sometimes necessary) distractions. In The Innovation Recipe we explore the secret sauce of the world’s most innovative companies. One thing these companies have in common is that they are disciplined and focussed. They do one thing, it brilliantly, then grow. If you’ve got great ideas that are distracting from your primary objective, these can always be included in a Phase Two project after you've achieved your existing objectives. R
  • 20. Time-bound Have you ever been at a dinner party, and the conversation is great, everyone’s enjoying themselves, but the main course isn't served until 11pm? As Stephen Covey would say, begin with the end in mind. Setting your deadlines is critical. Here’s an objective we prepared earlier: ‘To cook tasty paella, served up at 8pm, that all my guests love.’ You can then work backwards from your 8pm target and plan your cooking, preparation, hosting and socialising time to meet your 8pm deadline so that all your guests are awake to enjoy the main course (and haven't filled up on appetisers or finished off all the wine while waiting). T
  • 21.
  • 22. Are we heading in the right direction?
  • 23. Are we heading in the right direction? Once you’ve set your aim and objectives, it’s not enough to set and forget. It’s important to ask critical questions through the life of your project, to confirm you’re still on track. That way you can correct your course as you go, revisiting your objectives if circumstances change, and ensuring the day to day activities are always in sync with your long term goals. It sounds like common sense, but too often project teams get caught up in the details and fail to identify a shift in direction. Most project teams are great at tracking whether they are on time and on budget. It’s equally important to ensure you are in sync with your objectives and on track to deliver your Return on Investment.
  • 24. The takeaways  What are you trying to get done? Focus on the outcome. It’s not just about getting food on the table  Get on the same page Equip your team with your one-line project aim  Eat the elephant one bite at a time Breakdown your project into five key objectives  Get clear on your objectives SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound  Regularly take stock Are you on track to deliver your objectives, and on track to deliver your Return on Investment
  • 25. Are you reviewing your objectives ahead of your next strategy workshop? You can download our 20-page Strategy Workshop guide from our website: www.zumbara.com.au/strategy-workshop-guide.html
  • 26. Still hungry for more? For more Innovation Recipe cheat sheets, articles and guides, or to buy the book: www.zumbara.com.au