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For organizational projects, having a good idea is not enough

Why are some projects approved and some not?

A few years ago I started a new role as a training manager at a large site with over 2,000 employees and contractors. The trainers were spread across the operations, maintenance and service departments, and had been working in isolation for many years. As a result there was no coordination of training, plenty of role confusion and gaps in training records.

The solution to me seemed pretty clear—centralize the training team. I devised a project plan and outlined my thoughts in a memo to my manager. And then I waited, and waited….

The response I eventually received was that although the management team acknowledged some of my concerns, there were more pressing issues and no money in the budget. In other words, a good idea but no project approval.

A year later, the new head of Human Resources had outlined a plan to centralize training and gained the approval of the executive team. I was called in to see my manager and was asked to put together a project plan to centralize the training team on site. I dusted off my memo from a year ago and presented it to my manager who seemed surprised at how quickly I managed to pull together the plan.

What had changed? There was now a strategy in place. And a business plan to support it. There was a sponsor. And there was direction and support from the management team. Within weeks the project was approved, and within two months the project was completed and the training team was centralized on site.

A good idea for a project is not enough. A project will only be fully supported if it aligns with the strategy or business plan. Before you start a project, ask these questions:

1. What are the goals of this project?

2. How does it align with your company’s business strategy?

3. How does it align with your company’s business plan?

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