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Defining an Accurate Project Goal

Why do we do the things that we do?

There are two ways of approaching assignments. You can either toe the line or question all the crucial matters.

When you’re creating something for someone else, you usually sit down together, listen to their needs, lay out some ideas and come up with a solution which you will then turn into reality.

But what if someone comes to you with a very specific idea and they’re very keen on making it happen? Would you accept it immediately and do what you’re told? Or will you approach the idea flipping everything upside down?

Let’s look at the pros and cons of the situation when someone approaches with a clearly defined idea, leaving no room for discussion.

The pros and cons

The pros of executing orders are certainty, efficiency, and speed.

No dwelling, no philosophy, just let someone else deal with the creative process, decision making, and risk-taking. Your part is to sit down and do the manual work. Almost like a machine. Hold on, aren’t machines made in series? This means there are more than one. Just like that, there are many others out there that will do the same.

And there’s a con right there. Do exactly as you’re told and you won’t be any different than the others in a market so vast that the only way to stand out is to be different.

Here are some more cons: uncertainty, lack of effectiveness and speed need extra attention.

A firm stance is rare. Surely you’ve had the opportunity to see how people’s wishes and opinions change throughout the progress of a project. People will start off with a vision, and then remodel it according to what they see. Since you’re only executing orders, you’ll have to change whatever you’ve created in line with their wishes. Over and over again, risking effectiveness for efficiency. Additional requests seem to be endless and granting them comes at the cost of speed. No one benefits from projects that drag out for way longer than planned.

Also, reasoning is what makes us humans extraordinary. So why not use it? Admittedly, questioning someone’s ideas may get on people’s nerves. In the end, though, the questioning process could take you far from where you started.

Employee motivation

Not to mention the avalanche of positive effects this approach has.

First of all, everyone will more likely be motivated to invest their energy and attention in helping people achieve their goals, rather than just completing tasks.

Most of us prefer having our opinions taken into account, especially when we know what we’re talking about! There’s nothing more frustrating than being silenced and forced to do something we don’t agree with. Unfortunately, that’s what happens more often than not.

Changing the approach could, over time, lead to an individual feeling of owning the product or service, a higher happiness rate, and a lower employee turnover rate. This is of course just an assumption of the snowball effect that would take place over time in case the mindset of the company changes.

Simply being part of the decision-making process could be motivating. Instead of meetings behind closed doors and briefs containing new orders, knowing why we do what we do is crucial for personal motivation.

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Moving forward, carefully

If you want to go forward, which is usually the case, you need to create something new or change what you already have.

However, is change at any cost a good thing? Changing for the sake of it may not be such a good idea. A well-thought-out change, on the other hand, can bring progress.

Now, how does one make a well-thought-out change?

Firstly, you need to know where you’re coming from. Enters: project baseline. What’s that? It’s a reference point, the one you’ll be comparing your progress to. If you’re selling 100 ice-creams per day on average and you want to increase your sales, 100 per day is your baseline. It’s the official point the project planning phase stops and its execution begins. Every progress you make will be defined as progress because it has moved from the baseline.


Here’s a set of questions you could ask to guide the thinking development.

What needs to be changed and why?

What’s the goal that needs to be accomplished? An increase in sales, a bigger market share, or cost reduction perhaps.

If the product or service is already on the market, what’s the current state of the circumstances based on which a change needs to be made? In different words: what’s the baseline?

If a new product or service is being placed out there, what’s the current state of the market you’d like to enter?

Basically, the goal is to answer the question: what are you basing your decisions on?

But all this feels like fluff. It’s all very general and can be interpreted in many ways. So, we’ll illustrate an example from our own yard, in our next post!

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