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How to turn ideas into profitable projects and win?

If you are a business leader involved in initiating, developing, or managing complex projects like those in the oil and gas, renewables, nuclear, or construction industries, you might find that there are many ideas that you believe in but only a small proportion of them usually develop into a real project.

Many projects do not succeed. In fact, according to PMI statistics, on average 2 in 3 projects fail. This is especially true when it comes to the oil and gas industry. Statistics are as high as 78%. Poor project definition is one of the reasons so many projects fail since it ties ideas and execution together. Here are my three tips to maximize your chances of business ideas turning into profitable projects. #1 Choose the right type of idea Did you know that 73% of respondents according to Geneca believe that their projects are either always or usually doomed right from the start?

When I say choose the right type of idea, I mean stop chasing every idea and every project. Instead, choose the idea with a clear value proposition, a clear fit with your business strategies, and stakeholders alignment right from the start. You must start by understanding your organizational strategies and where your company wants to go. This is usually done in the form of a strategic planning workshop. Management must clearly define and communicate this.

You must have a system in place, such as the Stage Gate Process. In this system, you can clearly distinguish between ideas that are likely to fail and those that are likely to succeed. You must look for ways to bring a large number of fresh ideas to your company. However, don’t forget, it is not just about the system but how the system is being used across the organization. Consistency and fluency are the keys to success. #2 Turn your ideas into profitable projects using a simple and proven system. The truth is, most companies have plenty of ideas to turn into projects. The challenge is how to put this all together, validate ideas, and how to come up with the most effective concept to meet your stakeholder's expectations.

This is where The Winning Game Plan comes in - I call it the Winning Game Plan because it is based on the proven stage gate model and together with the 6 key principles, it makes it a really agile and simple-to-follow system for project teams.

A typical Stage Gate Process for realizing ideas and projects can be seen in this picture.

Everything starts with an idea.

The idea might come from the marketplace, a competitor, a customer, or from technology. It also might come from the business development department, exploration, marketing, or operation. A smart idea can make or break a project. This is the first step to initiating the roadmap.

Having completed the initial idea screening questionnaire, we have moved on to Phase 1 - the assess phase. Here is a brief summary of each phase:

Phase 1: Assess - Identify and Assess Opportunity—Clearly frame the idea to be pursued, and ensure alignment with business objectives and at least one feasible solution.

Phase 2: Concept - Generate and Select Alternative(s)—Generate and assess a wide range of creative, doable alternatives for the idea, and select and define the alternative that provides the highest value for the business.

Phase 3: Develop - Develop a preferred alternative. This is where we clock framing and apply project management practices. At the end of this phase, companies usually announce that they are working on a project to execute.

Phase 4: Execute - Execute the project in accordance with the Project Execution Plan

Phase 5: Operate and Evaluate—Benchmark the results against the business objectives; share the lessons and look for new opportunities and ideas. What you must remember is that the first two phases need to be managed differently than the last three, for example, in the first two phases we need to be agile, creative, and open to change with out-of-the-box thinking, therefore the first two phases are often managed by the Development Manager.

The project manager's role usually begins in the Develop phase, when the objectives, scope, and measures of success are clearly defined. The role of the Project Manager is to deliver value by coordinating the inputs from cross-functional teams in such a way that the expectations of all the key stakeholders and communities can be met. #3 Maximize your most critical asset, your people. In projects, we talk about cross-functional teams.

What is a cross-functional team? - well, it's simply a team whose members come from different functions or departments but because of the nature of the project they also contribute to the development or/and execution of a project; they often do so either in person or remotely and on a part-time or full-time basis.

In the Assess Phase, cross-functional teams are likely to be working on a part-time basis and as the opportunity develops and progresses to the next stage, the amount of work evolves and the size of the team grows; by the time we are in the Develop phase, usually, most of the key members are working on a full-time basis.

What are some of the challenges in leading cross-functional teams? There are many, for instance, the usual suspects: communication, planning and prioritizing tasks, different personalities and mood swings, and, of course, decision-making. Decision-making might be very challenging as people's perspectives on what needs to be done might be different, or what’s the given versus what are the assumptions So you need to clarify right up front how decisions are being made, what is the process, and who is the decision maker for particular types of decisions. When these challenges are not addressed well, they are likely to cause poor engagement, which results in poor productivity, poor performance, and poor project results. The studies confirmed that most development or project managers are lacking the skills and processes to build high-performing teams and this is where effective facilitation and the latest research about building high-performing teams might help. Check out my website for a team self-evaluation questionnaire on how to build the perfect team. Click here. Let me know if you find this article valuable and leave a comment.

Contact me, if you want to conduct:

  • Strategic planning workshop

  • Opportunity framing workshop

  • Training for your employees about the Stage Gate Process

Here is the link to book a call:

In fact, the online training course on the Stage Gate Process called " Complex Projects - The Winning Game - Plan" is already available and there isn't a better way to learn about this topic than through self-paced online study.

Click the link below to learn what is included in this course:

and watch lesson 1 for free!

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