How to Get Stuff Done


Businesses are facing disruption on multiple fronts, and many are struggling to simply get things done. Leaders must contend with the pandemic’s aftermath and the challenges of managing a remote or hybrid workforce, as well as economic uncertainty, ongoing supply chain disruptions, demand shifts, resource constraints and more, all while devising critical plans for the road ahead. It can be increasingly difficult to prioritize and adapt to the constantly shifting environment.

There are actionable steps organizations should consider for getting things done in the current business climate. Using best practices like those below will increase the likelihood of completing your strategic initiatives this year:

Determine Priorities

Figure out what you need to focus on and develop a plan for getting it done.

  • Identify priority projects for the next quarter.
  • Ensure projects align with the organization’s broader strategic plans.
  • Sort those projects into individual workstreams with dedicated teams.
  • Make actionable checklists for each project.
  • Create project benchmarks and define KPIs.
  • Establish a monthly/quarterly review cadence for the initiatives with the executive team. Review all major initiatives, progress to date and the current business environment. Reprioritize where appropriate.

Assign the Right People

Identify team members with the appropriate combination of skills and personalities to ensure the project gets the attention it needs to be accomplished successfully, on time and on budget.

  • Designate a specific person or team to be responsible for a project.
  • Identify a senior-level champion to help ensure adequate buy-in.
  • Ensure the project team has productive group chemistry and the right combination of skills. At minimum, you’ll need a big-picture visionary, a strategist to turn that vision into an action plan and a tactical executor.
  • When building the team, look for high performers outside of your regular circles to spread the opportunity to more professionals and provide them the opportunity to expand their skills.
  • Be judicious about who is on the team. Keep only those who believe in the project and want it to succeed.
  • Be realistic about team members’ workloads. Try to offload less important work that project members may be doing so they can dedicate more time to their assignments on the project.

Build a Bird’s-Eye View

You’ll need a method of communicating all special projects and initiatives happening throughout the organization to company leadership and other stakeholders. Getting a big-picture view also allows you to assess how your people’s time is being used, whether you are relying too heavily on a few professionals and if the organization is taking on more than it can handle.

  • Track all the various projects in your organization in a centralized location, using common metrics for monitoring success, with the help of dashboards to provide the big picture. Ensure all dashboards are easy to use and are fed by accurate, real-time data. Don’t rely solely on dashboards, however. Remain in regular communication with the project team who can provide more context to the data and share qualitative updates that aren’t as easily tracked.

Foster a “Fail Fast” Mindset

It is more important to act than to wait and strive for perfection. If you try to plan for every scenario, you may be too slow to respond adequately to a crisis or seize a new opportunity.

  • Don’t wait for perfection - start executing. Encourage a “fail fast” organizational culture, and not just for times of crisis.
  • Assess the progress and value of all projects on ongoing basis -at least monthly and, if feasible, bi-weekly.
  • Are they moving the needle for your business?
  • Evaluate the progress of each project against predetermined KPIs and milestones. Is the project meeting those KPIs, and do they bring the expected ROI? ROI comes in many forms (e.g., revenue protection, revenue generation, increased profitability, cost avoidance, etc.), so define the ROI you’re aiming for to measure the project’s success and try to identify quick wins in the early stages.
  • Based on this evaluation of impact and ROI, determine whether projects need to be discontinued, reprioritized or require more investment and support.

Develop the Next Generation

Even in a crisis period, make sure you are taking steps to train your people and provide them with new opportunities.

  • As you address immediate needs, don’t neglect your organization’s future. Provide avenues for junior staff to get exposure to opportunities that further their growth.
  • Include at least one junior person on every project team. Even if they are just involved in project management, expose them to strategic conversations that are beneficial for their development.
  • Teach them to be students, and, ultimately, champions, of the “fail fast” mindset you’re encouraging in the organization. The next generation of leaders will take up that mantle.

Whether you are trying to overcome financial challenges, capitalize on a new opportunity or adapt to shifting market conditions, how swiftly and effectively you act in the near term could have significant implications for your business’ long-term success. Don’t wait, get started today.

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