I once worked with an organization that was not quite as focused as it should have been. Their returns were on a long, slow, decline, and nobody was sure what to do.
After we clarified the company’s vision and three strategic priorities, I asked the President how many of the projects and initiatives throughout the organization were actually aligned with those few corporate priorities.
He wasn’t so sure.
We quickly scoured through every crevice of the organization, asking managers to fess up to their pet projects. These were all then neatly compiled onto a spreadsheet which tracked the project name, owner, dollar spend, and outcome. When all was said and done, we had tracked down over 300 unique projects.
“Huh,” said the President as he scrolled through the list, taking note of the dozens of activities he formerly had no knowledge of.
We then held up each and every project against those three strategic priorities, to see if they fit. The thinking went like this: if the organization’s efforts and energies were being channeled into activities that didn’t line up with its priorities, then no matter how worthy the project, it was simply holding the company back from achieving its goals.
Each project was organized into three simple color-coded categories: green (Yes/Continue); yellow (Good Idea/Not Now); and red (No/Stop). By the time we finished, $5 million worth of misaligned projects were shut down.