A few years ago I took a UCLA Extension class called Strategic Project Thinking taught by Terry Schmidt. He taught the idea of logical frameworks for project organization and problem solving. Check out Terry’s site and the web for some great articles that go into this process in detail. If you can, take a workshop or course from him or buy his book Strategic Project Management Made Simple. A lot goes into logical frameworks. Here, I will write about one of the key elements of strategic project management.
As with any good problem solving method, you first want to identify the objective you really want to accomplish. This will take some effort—in the past you may have given in to the temptation to use the assignment given to you by your manager as your objective. The real objective will usually include something about your customer. In the hearing aid world, you want to improve the lives of hearing aid wearers. Your manager may have assigned you to reduce the background noise in the hearing aid. The assignment will help you improve the lives of hearing aid wearers, but it may limit your thoughts when you seek a solution to the noise problem if you focus only on reducing background noise. When you have determined this desired objective, you write it in the form of a verb and object phrase, preferably with a subject, too. Choose your words carefully because those words will bias your thinking. For example, Sonic Innovations has the mission: “Improving life through enhanced hearing.” Keeping that in mind helps every person in the company understands their role and responsibility in the company and on his or her project.
After you have identified your core objective, you will want to break it down to the purpose of your project, the outcomes you want to have, and the key action steps required to accomplish those outcomes. For each of these you will also determine how you will measure your success, how you will verify that you did succeed, and what assumptions you will need to make sure get cleared up to ensure success. In all this planning, always keep in mind your high level objective, otherwise you may ignore some very important ideas you could bring to the world.