How do you eat an Elephant?

How do you eat an elephant?

How do you eat an Elephant?

We usually start a project with an idea of what it is that we wish to achieve, build or create.  We have an idea of what the future end state is and why we started the project in the first place.

But how often do we get part way through our project, become disillusioned, frustrated or bored with it and its abandoned, left with the pile of other half completed projects?

Projects fail, when we fail to create a clear picture of what success looks like.

In order for a project to be successful you need to define the measurements of what success looks like.  We need to create the expectations, set the goals and then measure the outcomes.  The same rules apply to any project, whether it be to loose 5kg, implement a new business system, renovate your home or build a hotel, the principles are the same.

For the purpose of this exercise, lets say that our project is to improve Employee Engagement in our organisation.  For any organisation this can seem like an overwhelming task but with a little tenacity and some planning, goals are achievable.

1. What are you trying to achieve? Write it down.

At the commencement of a project it’s important to get clear about what you expect to achieve by even starting this project.  What are going to be your measurements of success, your KPI’s, something that you can look back on at the completion of the project and critically evaluate your achievement.

By considering these measurements now, you are able to focus your energy into the right area’s of the project as you move forward.  You have a clear end point in sight and can begin to plan out your steps as to what will be the most effective use of your time, energy and money to achieve your goal.

To achieve the goal of improving Employee engagement, what would success look like?  How would you know that you have achieved it?  What metrics or KPI’s could you set to know that you achieved it?  What other business factors might change as a result of achieving this goal?

Organisation X is looking to achieve improved Employee Engagement within the next 6mths.  KPI’s of our success will be measured by;

  • Reduced sick leave
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • An increase in the eNPS [Employee Net Promotor Score]
  • Improved inter-department communication

2. What does the picture look like now? Establish the base line.

We know what we want to achieve and we have established four area’s that can be measured to determine our success. However we can’t measure this as we haven’t specified a target, but we can’t put a target on it if we don’t know how it looks now.  We need to understand our present state, our baseline, in order to set a target to be achieved.

In this case we need to collate the data that establishes our base line for future reference, before we put our plans into action.

We need to review our HR data and understand what our current sick leave and employee turnover looks like.  We need to issue an eNPS survey to our employees to get a present state score.  Given that we have set this project for ourselves in the first place, we’re aware that we have concerns about our employee engagement levels, and these may be due to internal silo’s which have led us to add improved inter-departmental communication to our list of KPI’s.  Document what the current issues are:

Sales aren’t communicating with dispatch and its taking us 48hrs to release products.

Now go back and set some targets on those KPIs for you to achieve, so you’ve got a focus.

  • Reduced sick leave by 20%
  • Reduced employee turnover by 30%
  • A 20%increase in the eNPS [Employee Net Promotor Score]
  • Improved inter-department communication – dispatch are releasing products in 24hrs from time of order

3. How are you going to get there? Break it down.

We’ve all heard the adage, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

The same applies here. What are the steps that we need to take to get to our goal?  Break it into smaller projects and apply interim milestone dates.  If we are going to improve our employee engagement over the next 6mths, what are we going to do in the first 6 weeks? And the following 6 weeks?

Every project consists of a series of milestones on a critical path to achieve an end date.  The critical path is the flow of activities that are linked together. 

We need to achieve X in order to start Y.

To improve employee engagement in our organisation the first steps we may need to take is to actually ask our employees what we should start doing and what we should stop doing.  Who better to tell us?!? Then identify a couple of items that can be addressed with minimal time, energy and money and do them.  A quick win!

Then set your focus onto addressing the larger issues, what needs to be done and by when?

4. How do you know you’ve succeeded? Measure it.

You’ve been on this journey for 6 months now.  You’ve clearly articulated your objective, you’ve understood your current state, you’ve set measurable targets to be achieved and you’ve broken the project down into smaller projects and established clear milestones.

Now to see if you have been successful…collate and analyse the data from HR, re-issue the eNPS survey and have a look at the timeframe on our sales dispatch?  Did you hit your targets?  Yes? Well done!  No? re-evaluate your process, what worked, what didn’t work?  What could you improve?

In either case, now’s the time to re-evaluate your goals.  If you achieved it, perhaps you need to put a more ambitious goal in place, if you didn’t, what can you do differently to get there?

Achieving our goals requires a certain amount of tenacity and good deal of planning. Create the expectation, set the goal and then measure the outcomes.


Blog Contributed by Melissa Marsden

“Chief creative and our fearless leader she’s the brains behind this operation”

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