November & December theme:
“Choose One Thing”
Posted in :  Brain Waves

It’s always interesting to me, how a simple inquiry can open up a whole new world of success for an initiative. Before embarking on your next project or initiative, consider starting with this inquiry:

What difference is this work making, and how will we know?

Often we start something new by listing goals, objectives, specifications and requirements. This list is useful and necessary to establish the parameters for a body of work. However, those parameters are often broad-brush strokes that do little to define what success looks like, less, how we will know when we are being successful.

We then often leave it at just a list, call it done and move on to developing the project. Rarely do we revisit those goals and objectives to tie them into things that we can use to measure our success. This has us developing, deploying a project, and then scrambling to find the answer to if it was successful.

Consider a different way in to success. What if we created those same parameters by linking the project’s success to the difference it will make? Instead of defining the goals, objectives, specifications and requirements, first we establish the Criteria for Success.

Step One to creating the Criteria for Success

A Criteria for Success is generated from answers to two essential questions:

1) What would be true if this project were successful?
(What will be different in the future than it is today)

2) How can we know it’s true?
(What can we measure to demonstrate success)

At Fathom, these questions are asked when all of the project stakeholders are gathered together in a room. Once a consensus is reached about the list, we establish Criteria for Success and then get to work on what’s required to make it happen.

The nature of these questions results in surprisingly insightful possibilities. With it, you can now design project parameters that serve that success. As you proceed in developing the project you can make well-informed and quick decisions about things that could affect the projects’ ability to be successful, by either not making the change in the project, or changing the criteria for success. And because the project was designed by answering not just what success is, but how will we know it, post deployment, by design, the difference it’s making is measurable.

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Posted by: Brent Robertson
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