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Defining project goals/outcomes, and values

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  • Defining project goals/outcomes, and values

    I'm working on increasing my effectiveness in reviewing my projects: which ones bring the most current value, which should be moved to someday/maybe, etc. To that end:

    I have a notes field attached to my projects. In that, for *some* projects, I've started to add some meta data at the top of the note. This, so far, includes "goal" and "value":

    - Goal: concise reason, value, or output that completing the project will produce. This helps understand both the purpose of the project during review, and in determining relative merit of actions and thus which to act on first.

    - Value: What outputs completing the project (or occasionally, single action) supports or enhances. For example, "Exercise for one hour, breaking a sweat." may "Provide energy that is useful for all endeavors"; or "Outsource web site maintenance." can "Improve web presence quality, increase sales, and free up my time for more strategic work." with a value of "Grow my company".

    In many cases, the goal is explicit in a properly-phrased project name. In some cases, "goal" and "value" may be one and the same (whether stated as the project name, or as metadata included in a project); in other cases, there may be a project title, separate goal, and separate value.

    Ideally, I would use an entry in one of my levels of horizon as a goal.

    I'm *not* aiming at including such meta data in all projects by any means, but the idea is compelling for including with some projects, so as to help force me to decide on their relative merit during review, and whether to move to someday/maybe. I admit that I even monkeyed with the idea of a "1", "2", "3" "value" rating. I'm not trying to be a troll by stating that -- I just considered it an honest sharing point. Thoughts?

    Last edited by agavebob; 02-16-2009, 09:18 PM.

  • #2
    As you rightly said, it is important to be clear about the purpose / desired outcome of a project, it's vision, its relevance in the larger scene, the associated values, and so on. And it is also important to write them down, so that you don't forget it in the heat of work.

    However, these things need not have a specific format or need not be mechanical. A couple of lines in the beginning of the project notes describing all such things should be sufficient for most projects, but it could be much more for some projects. Allow project notes to acquire the desired level of depth of such views, which varies from project to project, say from zero words to more than a page. In other words, don't try to structure your project notes beyond usability!


    • #3
      And by the way, I also wanted to observe that "Exercise for one hour, breaking a sweat" is usually not an action which falls on the next actions list, unless you have an extremely flexible and variable daily routine and you use the first appropriate one-hour opportunity to complete it! Usually it's scheduled on your calendar. Once the routine is set, it may even be so obvious that you never write it on the calendar. "Exercise regularly..." is not even a project; it's an area of focus (perhaps better called "stay healthy and energetic"). It may generate projects like "search for a gym" or "research and setup a suitable exercise routine". Once such projects are complete, it's just a routine that needs to be followed, and the area reviewed with appropriate frequency to be aware of the purpose and ensure that you are doing well on that front.



      • #4
        Don't want to be rude but it seems a little bit complicated to me. That's my opinion. If you want to line up all your projects to your higher outcomes then why not simply use a question in your Weekly Review, i.e. "Does this particular project fit any area of focus on my higher outcomes list?". No? Then delete it. And go through the whole list of projects.

        But for me personally I don't line up. Life is very interesting thing to line it up. Should I have any project that doesn't feet any area of focus I'd create the one not to miss it up. My notes section for the project (I use Outlook) contains a short project plan, usually of 7-10 lines in total. That's what I think is sufficient to move my projects to the end!


        • #5

          The flexibility of project notes (for goal/value) you mentioned is helpful, thanks.


          Your idea of questioning if a project supports my higher horizons during weekly review is useful, as is your short project plan method. My issue is that the many projects I have do support my higher horizons of focus; I'm trying to force myself to focus on the ones that should bring more value. Both of your feedback supports my general idea, and I will continue to refine it.

          Thanks for the conversations so far.