Every great project and event starts with great strategy.
This is why we carefully guide our clients to identify their intent: What do they want to accomplish? How will success be defined? Once goals are determined, we identify constraints, such as time, financial resources, human resources. We think through possible risks and barriers.
We expect that good strategy will save time, money and mental energy. And, of course, everything will proceed smoothly.
Except sometimes it doesn’t.
Surprisingly, one of the biggest threats to a successful project isn’t poor strategy or poor planning: it’s the seemingly harmless fuzzy bunny.
Fuzzy bunnies are well-meaning distractions that keep you from focusing on what needs to be addressed.
Speaking of fuzzy bunnies, when I hear the phrase I picture a small rabbit that my dad found in a field nest and brought to our house one Easter. My cousin Maggie, at age 3 or 4, was visiting. She wore a red print dress with a white overlay and she carefully cuddled that little bunny in her tiny hands. So cute. So adorable.
And so off on a tangent.
The point is that fuzzy bunnies are cute and good and cuddly. The latest, new idea is pretty darn cute, too (or at least some individual or group you are working with will think so). That is a problem when the great idea derails a project or doesn’t align with the strategy.
Fuzzy bunnies come from anywhere. Sometimes it’s the visionary folks who thrive on the big picture who can’t help themselves. They enjoy coming up with lots and lots of ideas and they’re pretty good at it, too. Sometimes it’s the more detail-oriented members of a group who fixate on ideas that won’t actually move the project forward.
We’ve worked with clients who wanted to spend precious meeting time discussing menu items that were too expensive for the budget. We’ve guided teams who kept contributing “great ideas” for programs well beyond the time they could be implemented.
Yes, when managing a project you need to be flexible and nimble. But there’s a difference between changing plans because there isn’t a staff member available and changing plans because a new idea popped up.
Bad ideas, of course, are easy to dismiss. But the good ones?
That’s when we turn to the strategy document. If good strategy work has been done, it is relatively easy to determine whether an idea should be explored or set aside.
A strategy document can be simple or complex, but it can’t be placed on a shelf. Its true value appears when it is kept close at hand throughout the entire project. It can be used to review all new ideas, all new solutions to determine whether the idea is helpful or a fuzzy bunny.
Should you entertain the idea of serving lobster on the lunch buffet? Check the budget in your strategy document. Should you rent a billboard because it’s a good deal? Review your strategy document.
It’s powerful and rewarding to see real and tangible experiences rise up from strong strategy. Even more so, it’s exciting to see strategy used to combat the fuzzy bunnies that rear their crazy heads in midst of shaping a project or event.
Let’s keep the fuzzy bunnies where they belong.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Blog adapted from 12/2/14 post.