We have a management philosophy that my business colleague, Gregg, came up with called “Reach within Grasp.” It means we ask ourselves: “If we take on a project, can we finish it?” This may seem like an obvious question, but I’m frequently surprised by how many projects get started, by myself or by clients, that can’t reasonably be finished.
Here’s an example: Someone at a client institution says, “I think we should fix our website.” The school’s website division agrees that the website is unattractive, outdated, boring, etc., so work commences to “fix the website” – without a plan or a specific goal in mind that answers the questions “Why exactly are we fixing it and what do we want the website to do?”
And so a web developer gets involved, designs are considered, and a new layout is fashioned. It’s new and, therefore, exciting. Then other things come up – maybe a deadline for the catalog that can’t be pushed, or some pressing ad materials have to be produced, or a new program is being launched. Next thing you know, that simple website update has been sitting in limbo for three months. And when the team finally gets back to it, its new and exciting qualities have largely worn off, and it seems old and uninteresting.
So, an even NEWER design and layout are pursued, and the whole project starts again.
The project was filled with honorable intentions but had no hope of ever being within grasp.
One of the things we stress with clients is that they should only take on marketing projects they can finish with a minimum investment of time and money. We, in turn, focus them on the small process improvement projects that can make a big difference.
For example, on websites, we advocate that a client simply add a “Request info” form as a first project. The site could be tired, out of date and dull, but that doesn’t matter. What a client needs is more prospective students filling out the form. Then they get more leads, and their recruiters and department heads have more student recruitment opportunities.
Adding sign-up forms to a website will take a few hours; properly redesigning a website can take months.
So, before beginning your next project or initiative, I challenge you to first give some consideration to what you can or can’t realistically finish, and save yourself some valuable time and money along the way.