Many projects start off with very lofty objectives. And with a lot of work and a little luck those desired results are often achieved. In every case those results usually have been achieved within a certain timeframe and with a lot of momentum.
Yet once you achieve those goals in many respects the energy and momentum which got you there may start to fade. Yet your work has just begun. The next question that always comes up is whether you can sustain, and further improve, those results.
Additionally if you are trying to drive Cultural Change and long term transformation after a while your initial project may become stale and your participants demotivated or distracted.
To avoid your project becoming "just another program" you need to proactively recognize when your project needs to be reinvented or rebooted to avoid irrelevancy and the back-sliding of your results.
We are focussing this blog post on projects which largely succeeded in achieving their original objectives but now need reinvention to drive further improvements. If your project failed in achieving its original objectives then you already know that you need to change your approach.
The First Pass of your Project
The Change Leadership techniques that it takes to accomplish that initial objective need to be reconsidered as you look to drive further, future improvements. It can be difficult to sustain the energy and momentum that got you to the initial goal.
In the initial project it can be difficult to get started in the first place. You need to enlist support at all levels. You need to make your objective widely known. A communications strategy needs to be implemented. A change management work stream is essential. And you need to break through a lot of barriers.
But once you start getting results then momentum starts to build. Energy and enthusiasm increase as success breeds success. There will certainly be some missteps and backtracking but generally you are moving forward.
And then you meet or exceed your target. Yet you are now asked to continue on with an even loftier goal, higher expectations, and a requirement to sustain the improvements you have made.
Reinventing your Project to Prevent it from going Stale
It is important to recognize that the same approach you took to achieve your initial result requires reinvention for this next stage. People will be tired. They will have felt that they gave up a lot of time and energy to help you the first time around. And while your project was new and exciting when it started it is now established and more mainstream.
So how do you take your project up to the next level and reinvent it so that it stays fresh?
1. You have to recognize that your Project does require reinvention
No matter how successful your project was you will need to add new elements and dimensions to keep it fresh. It can be both exhilarating and exhausting driving change and transformation.
So when you are asked to achieve even higher targets it means going to an even higher level. And that means you need to reboot your program to keep people motivated and to establish the expectation of even higher changes. Do not assume that what got you to the current level will be sufficient to get you to the next level.
2. You have to leverage the "Brand" that you built with your Project
In our experience naming your project early on is a great platform for creating this brand. It becomes a rallying point for everyone that you need involved. You need to leverage the goodwill that goes along with your brand but you also have to build on it.
Your project is now associated with successful results. Now you have to tie your new, loftier targets to your project and its brand. Even though there will be new challenges to tackle and harder barriers to bust through, you need to remind people that your project has proven, through precedent, that you can change the game.
3. You should change the players and teammates who are involved
Just like a Sports team changes some of their players every year you should consider changing some of the people on your team. In both cases you want to not only strengthen the team but you want to give other people a chance to be part of the planned success.
There may be different skills that you now need because your objectives are even bigger. New blood on your team will usually bring a renewed sense of energy. And new players will want to replicate, if not exceed, the success that you have had before.
4. You need to distinguish your Project from what was done before
You may need to rename your project. Within the umbrella of your brand you may to rename it to make the new dimension and expectations of your project visible.
In software speak it's like naming something "2.0". It suggests a new, improved and even better version of what you have already done.
At a minimum your communication strategy must make clear that this is not the same old project.
5. Raise the Bar!
You have bigger goals, harder objectives and larger challenges ahead of you. For instance your initial objectives could have been improving your position, on some metric, relative to your competition. Now you could expand your objective to be world class, for that metric, as compared to those outside of your industry.
Whatever your goal you need to make it big and audacious. It will set the expectation amongst everyone that there must be more change, more support, and greater barrier busting.
More business process transformation and more culture change will be necessary which you can make sure that everyone understands by raising the bar.
How many times have you heard the hallway chatter of people saying that a project is "just another program". This is even more likely if your project has been running for an extended period of time.
Yet you still have much more that you need to accomplish.
Your project can become stale over time. Even if it is successful after awhile people will become less enamoured with what you are doing. As such it is critical to reinvent your project to avoid it becoming irrelevant.
Be proactive! Look for the signs that show interest in your project is waning. And take the lead in reinventing your project!