Hello, and welcome to PGA (People Geek Answers) CFranklin30!
The “list of projects to achieve” approach reminds me a little of Henry Ford’s quote: “why is it every time I ask for a pair of hands, they come with a brain attached?” (with all respect to your client)
This may have been effective in the industrial age, but in the information age it is more often than not that we aren’t just looking for a “pair of hands” to deliver the projects, but also to use the brains in the organization to surface other relevant initiatives that may be worth considering as well.
At Culture Amp, the analogy we use is:
Destination: What are the overarching goals of the organization? (E.g. achieve $XM revenue, reach Y customers, etc.)
Mapping/Routing: What are all the possible ways we could get there? How should we get there? (E.g. working with a broader team, we identified a list of 20 projects/initiatives we could be doing; and the executive team has decided we’re going to forge ahead with project #1, #3, and #5 for now)
Wayfinding/GPS: How do we know we’re still on track? (E.g. what are the indicators that our approach is working? Often they are milestones for the projects and other in-progress indicators of the overarching goals, or sub-drivers – for example win rate % would be a sub-driver of a revenue goal)
The key to a robust organization that is effectively using the hands and brains of its people is one that is communicating all three parts of this well (up and down), so that:
- The hands can work with the brain to execute the projects as intended versus literally (e.g. someone working on project #1 is understands what its in service of, and so can make the micro-decisions that support the overarching goals rather than some other unintended consequence of executing the project literally)
- The brain can identify things the hands are seeing that the top-level of the organization may not be seeing (crucial important wayfinding/GPS insights, such as realizing early on that project #1 is not helping us achieve the goal it’s supposed to, and therefore we should make these tweaks to it…)
- The whole system can ingest all of this information, iterate on the approach (e.g. revise its list of projects) so that it can improve its chances of achieving its goals
All of this is much easier said than done, but better than the alternative of just outputting the project list. The former might require lots of work, some level of change management, including some hard conversations (vulnerability to being open and transparent, courage to give and learn faster from feedback), but the latter requires omniscience of the past, present, and future and also crystal clear communication to the employees (and comprehension by the employees) who are expected to execute the will of the client.