When fixing a problem project, the last thing you want to do is choose the right strategies. Wait, what? Did you read that right? Yes! Of course, I don’t mean that you never want to choose the perfect strategies. I mean that you need to wait and choose them last, after you’ve already defined the outcome and objectives.

Think about it. In the universe of options, there are many actions that could be taken and each expert on the team will have their favorites. However, if those actions are not properly oriented toward clear targets, your team will accomplish something, but will it be what’s needed for the project to succeed?

So, the first thing to do when fixing a problem project is to ensure is that where the team is going is clearly stated (i.e., the outcome). The next thing is to confirm that the team knows exactly what they are going to achieve (i.e., the objectives) to make that outcome happen.

What is a Strategy?

If the outcome is WHERE, and the objectives are WHAT, then the strategies are HOW you’ll do it.

  • Strategies should start with an action verb and clearly describe what is going to happen.
  • Strategies are grouped in an ordered series of steps to achieve each objective.
  • The strategies for each objective should be the actions that will most effectively and logically align to achieve it.

Choosing the Right Strategies

Have most (preferably all) of the team members work together to define strategies. This will help ensure their efforts are coordinated and understood moving forward.

  • With the outcome and objectives written down for everyone to see, on flip charts or on documents, brainstorm the possible strategies.
  • Then, narrow down the choices and select the most effective, aligned strategies to reach each of the objectives.
  • When you think you’re done, check your work. Look at the strategies you chose and ask yourself a few questions. Is it clear to you that these steps describe HOW each objective will be achieved? Do you see a logical sequence within the steps that makes achievement of the objective clear? Are there any steps you can take out of the series and still succeed at achieving the objective?

That’s the last step. With a clear idea of WHERE they are going, WHAT they are going to achieve, and HOW they will do it, your team is now ready to get a trouble project back on track.