Special projects come in two flavors.
Some involve working IN the business, which is doing more of what the company normally does, but putting in extra effort. An example might be to ship twice as much product this month to fill a giant order from a new customer. It’s working harder.
Or the project can mean working ON the business, either permanently expanding capacity to do MORE or upgrading capabilities to do DIFFERENT and better.
An example of expanding is buying more delivery trucks.
An example of upgrading is installing new software like a warehouse management system. It’s changing how things are done.
But projects require an investment of time and money. We can’t do them all at one. We must choose carefully.
Choices are a big deal. Over time, our choices determine our future. Do we choose to eat candy bars, or spinach? Do we choose to focus on a winning niche or try to be all things to all customers? Do we go this way or that? It makes a big difference.
While we think of choosing as saying YES, it also means saying NO. And saying NO to the wrong thing can impact us as much as saying YES.
So how do we make the right choice?
That’s where the CEO comes in – not to make the decision, but to create a filter that reveals the best, most positive, future-impacting projects.
That filter is your business strategy, “where to play, how to win.” More specifically, it’s the company’s strategy map.
A strategy map defines 1) the target market, 2) what that market most wants (i.e. the value proposition) and 3) what the company must excel at to fully deliver the value the market wants.
Once you know that, it’s easy to pick the right projects. They’re the ones that increase the company’s ability to fully deliver the right value to the right customers. There’s always a gap somewhere. We’re never delivering at 100%. There’s always better.
So the message here is: invest in special projects. Work ON the business but choose projects that are strategically aligned, that support the strategy. That’s how you win.