How to Select Your Initial Projects

Written by: David McClaskey, President, Pal's Business Excellence Institute

All Pal’s Business Excellence Institute (Pal’s BEI) classes are set up to inspire and enable all participants to successfully take the knowledge learned in the classroom and convert that knowledge into actions on the job. One of the ways Pal’s BEI does this, and a hallmark of all Pal’s BEI classes, is to incorporate project selection — and implementation within four weeks after the end of the class — as part of the class.

These projects, or action items, to improve a part of a participant’s organization are unique to each participant. When selecting their projects, participants often ask: “You’ve given us so many good improvement ideas, can you give some guidance that will help me select my initial project?”

The answer is “yes”, we can give some guidance, as part of the implementation support we provide, that will help YOU select a good initial project. Class participants select their own projects. This is very important since they have the best knowledge concerning what are their organization’s needs, culture, and people.  They will be the ones that will have to be committed enough to carry out the project’s implementation and then sustain the gain.

It is important to note that excellence is a journey, not a destination. The most distinguishing characteristic of the initial project is to implement it promptly. Start by successfully implementing the project within four weeks. This is particularly important for the initial project because it keeps the focus on the objective immediately ahead and puts the material that was just learned to immediate use. This creates some “improvement momentum” which is so critically important in making sustained, systematic progress.

You are starting or accelerating a journey to excellence. Taking that first step is the best predictor that the journey will be undertaken. As Chinese philosopher Laozi said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The biggest enemy for an initial project is delaying or not doing anything at all. Promptly taking that first step is the best thing you can do to assure that you will take the next one.

To help take that first step, Pal’s BEI offers the following guidance for class participants to consider when selecting an initial project.  The initial project selected should meet all five of these criteria.

  1. There is a very high level of certainty that the project will be fully implemented within four weeks.
    a.    One of the most important considerations is that you know you will complete the initial project in four weeks or less. No one knows your company or your capacity to complete this project better than you.
    b.    Excellence is a journey, not a destination. Getting an early “win” helps build momentum in the direction of excellence.
  2. The project will create value.
    a.    The cost must be worth the benefits.
    b.    The project must be a positive step towards making your organization more extraordinary.
  3. The project, once completed, will be sustained.
    a.    The key to a journey of excellence, is ensuring that after a positive step, it is kept in place.
    b.    This step does not have to be the biggest one, it is merely the start of a journey that will involve taking many, mostly small steps as opposed to a few giant leaps.
  4. The project will not wear you and your team’s energy out so that after the first project is completed and sustained, you and your team will have the energy to initiate and complete the next project.
    a.    This is about creating a journey to excellence. It is a long journey; so don’t let the first project wear you and your team out.
    b.    Completing the first improvement project helps build skills you’ll use in future improvement projects.
  5. The project uses something you learned or were reminded of during a Pal’s BEI class.
    a.    The project is not separate from the class, but an integral part of the learning experience.
    b.    The first step should be a result of this learning experience, whether from something you learned new in the class (a best practice, a new insight, or a new way of thinking) or a confirmation of a direction that you were already considering taking. Learn it, then use it.

The mission of Pal’s BEI is “to inspire, enable, and support leaders to create extraordinary organizations through operational excellence.” Ending each class with the project that the participant selected is a fantastic way to use the inspiration and enablement that every participant gets as a result of the classes. Being all dressed up and having nowhere to go has never been a good situation. The project gives each participant a place to go to take that next step towards being more extraordinary. In fact, we don’t see it as the end of the class, but as the beginning of a journey.

The criteria for selection listed above is just one of the ways Pal’s BEI supports each and every class participant to be 100 percent set up to successfully take their next step towards being extraordinary. This is also the initial way we support each class participant to be on an ongoing, multistep, journey to be extraordinary.

Be Extraordinary. We can work together to find a way. Come join our classes.
To learn more, visit: www.palsbei.com.