As we Americans think about celebrating Independence Day with parades, barbeques, and fireworks I came across a timely article on fastcompany.com: Lessons From the Founding Fathers on Leading a Breakthrough Meeting. Since the deliverable that they created in that meeting they hosted in 1787 is still going strong, I guess we could learn a thing or two about managing an effective project.
Here are some of my favorite points from the article:
- Do your homework ahead of time-to make sure that the document they crafted would last, the Founding Fathers learned all there was to know about governments past and of-the-day. Researchers do the same: you’ve got to know what your company knows so that your project answers the right questions.
- Invite the right people-politics are politics, whether you are running a fledgling nation or navigating the corporate conference room. There are both official and unofficial corporate networks that we need to work within. Nokia’s research team mapped the power and attitudes of its stakeholders, and MREB members can access interactive tools to do the same.
- Have a plan to start with-You need to give the project a place to start from. For Research, that means understanding where senior decision makers are coming from. Amway identified business drivers so that they could come to the table knowing how to address the company’s most important strategic issues.
- Get attendees to sign-on-At the end of the meeting, signing the document showed a strong commitment to the decisions made. Formalizing support for your project is key to getting the organization to take action. Hewlett-Packard has a great tool to record stakeholders’ level of agreement with decisions, and they record the final vote to hold folks to their support.
- Lobby strongly after completion-all projects need continued support to remain strong and applicable. Existing knowledge must be organized and synthesized, and Research has to do what it can to drive engagement with the knowledge it collects.
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