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Ensure Strategic Initiatives Finish Strong

The last mile is the longest mile.

Growth PitStop explores the challenges of the “Last Mile” and strategies to set yourself up for success.

Prepare for Last Mile Surprises
Last minute setbacks can be prevented by effective and ongoing project updates, risk management and stakeholder engagement. However, surprises are almost inevitable and in ‘Murphy’s Law’ fashion they are apt to appear close to the finish line.

Leave No Key Stakeholder Behind
As you approach the final stages of a project, the process of stakeholder communication and engagement takes on a new urgency. Rallying those stakeholders who are fans is important for the last mile. Winning over or at least neutralizing those who are could be disgruntled supporters is important too.

Start with the End in Mind
Ambitious leaders start their initiatives with the end in mind. In particular, ensuring that the project is grounded in strategy, addresses a key business need and is set up for success in terms of the application of project rigour – setting out project scope, timeline and so on.

Regularly, Revisit Project Scenarios & Assumptions
It is vitally important to revisit the assumptions and hypotheses that inform your initiative’s forecasts and projections. Based on the evidence to date are they still valid or do they need to be adjusted? Our analysis points to delays in addressing the gap between what is happening in reality versus what was forecast in the project plan, as being at the root of many last mile challenges.

Ensure the Finish Line is Clear
Ensuring clarity regarding the finishing line for a project may not be so easy. It is important to ensure that the different stakeholders agree on when the project is finished and how its success will be measured. This is something that needs to be continually reviewed as the project progresses.

Check if Finish Line Has Moved / Needs to Move
Keeping the end in mind is essential throughout a project. That means not only checking that the initiative is on course to deliver what is expected, but checking that those expectations have not changed.

Making the Finish Line Seem Less Distant
Rather than working towards a finish line far off in the distance, deliver results in smaller chunks, but more often. This is the classic ‘agile versus waterfall’ approach to project delivery.

Finish Strong – ‘keep something in the tank’
The last thing you want is to find yourself in the final stretch of a project depleted, with nothing left to give. With this in mind it is important to ‘keep something in the tank’ for the final stretch. The question is: How will you finish strong?

Think the ‘Golden Mile’ & Benefits Realization
Getting a strategic initiative across the finish line is a low bar – the project will be delivered, the project team will disband and people will move on to something else. The real question is how much of the hopes and aspirations behind the initiative will have been realized before that happens?

Growth PitStop – The Last Mile Challenge: How to Ensure Your Strategic Initiatives Finish Strong?

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