Articulating the purpose of any project is not as easy as it seems. A lack of clearly-defined business reasons and clarity of purpose create at least confusion, if they don’t derail the effort and its impact altogether.
We have proposed the 4 Ps Model for Effective Collaboration: Purpose, People, Process and Place. The PURPOSE is the starting point. The purpose of any collaborative effort must have a business context; after all, you are trying to solve a business problem that would have a demonstrable business impact, at least presumably. Or else, you would have no valid reason.
Here is a set of proposed steps for articulating the PURPOSE of your collaborative effort.
What business problem(s) are you trying to solve? Articulate the problem in the context of business needs, the business needs you are trying to fulfill. Lacking the context of specific business issues/challenges tends to turn into a list of “stuff.” The effort must have clear and direct business impact.
Why do you want to solve this business problem? Answer what you would do if you already had the solution. Articulate how you would use these results (high-level, preliminary action plan) and what clear business impact that would have. Ensure that all stakeholders downstream agree with your assessment of the need and commit to taking subsequent requisite actions.
Are you sure if the answer to the problem really addresses the business challenge? Iterate between the preceding two steps to ascertain what you really must accomplish and why.
So, what outcomes do you really need, precisely? Define goals/objectives and outcomes/deliverables clearly in the context of business needs, issues and impact.
Why is collaboration the right approach? Collaboration should produce significantly superior results, or else it is not the right horse for the course. Avoid the “collaboration trap.” Assuming collaboration is the right answer …
Does the team have a clear and shared understanding of the Purpose? Bullet points on a PowerPoint slide are not particularly helpful or clarifying for objectives, goals, deliverable and outcomes. Develop a level of detail and granularity that would minimize misunderstandings later. Gain a shared understanding and agreement at the detailed level among team members through discussions.
What does success looks like? Articulate how we would know when we get “there” and pop champagne corks. Define success metrics. The cliché of project success being on-time and within budget is alright but lacks the desired precision to measure success. Visualization of success can be very helpful. Creating potential outputs at a high-level at the beginning can also be very helpful.
Do you wish to create, nurture or sustain the collaboration culture? Understand that collaboration is more than deliverables. A positive nature of experiences for collaborators through the effort then also becomes a desired outcome.
Note the assembling a team with the right mix of people, based on project needs, is another discussion. We have obviously assumed above that you are assembling the right mix of skills, expertise and experience, and right mix of stakeholders.
How would you define the purpose of a collaboration effort? What are your ideas?
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