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  • Writer's pictureBrian Davidson, PMP, CSM

The Importance of Shared Goals in Project Management

As a Project Leader, I've often found that the real strength of a project team isn't necessarily in the individual skill sets of its members. Rather, it's in their ability to work toward a shared vision. This is an essential element in navigating the roadmap to success. The process is much like solving a puzzle, where each piece or action has its place and value in the grand picture. This piece aims to explore the critical importance of establishing a shared goal within the project team and the method of breaking down the work outlined in a Simplified Project Charter's scope section into manageable activities and actions.

Establishing a Shared Goal: The Key to Successful Project Execution

A shared goal isn't simply a target or an endpoint, but a roadmap for the team's journey. It's the beacon that guides decision-making processes, and it motivates and aligns the team. In the often unpredictable world of project management, it's the light at the end of the tunnel that keeps the team moving in the right direction, no matter the challenges that arise.

It's important to remember that a shared goal isn't something that's handed down from management and then implemented by the team. Instead, it's a vision created and agreed upon by everyone involved. Shared goals reflect not only the project's deliverables but also the values, expectations, and commitments of each team member. They infuse a sense of purpose into each task and action, transforming them from mundane tasks into steps toward the ultimate achievement.

From Broad Scopes to Bite-Sized Activities

The process of creating a shared goal begins with understanding the project's scope, as outlined in the Simplified Project Charter. The project scope is a broad summary of what the project is expected to achieve. It describes the project's deliverables, defines its boundaries, and provides a clear idea of what success looks like.

However, the project scope, in its original form, can be too comprehensive and overwhelming for team members. To make it more manageable, the project team needs to break down the scope into smaller, bite-sized activities and actions.

This process, known as Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), is critical for several reasons. First, it makes the project's tasks more understandable and manageable. Each activity becomes a mini-goal in itself, contributing to the overall goal. Second, it provides a clear path of progression, making it easy to track the project's status and address any issues that may arise promptly.

To create a Work Breakdown Structure, the project team must thoroughly understand the project scope. Once the scope is understood, the team can start breaking it down into main deliverables or major tasks. These major tasks are then further broken down into sub-tasks until the team reaches a level where each task is manageable, can be easily understood, and executed by one person or a small team.

Assigning Ownership and Collaborators

Once the tasks have been broken down into manageable chunks, the next step is assigning owners and collaborators for each activity. This step is crucial for accountability and effective collaboration.

Task ownership means that a team member or a small team is responsible for the completion of that task. The owner has the autonomy to decide how best to accomplish the task within the given constraints. This assignment empowers team members, making them more committed to the project's success.

Meanwhile, collaborators are those who assist the task owner. They provide necessary support and resources for the task completion. The relationship between owners and collaborators is symbiotic; they must work together, share knowledge, and support each other to accomplish the tasks.

Mapping the Path to Success

As Project Leader, my role is to facilitate this process and ensure everyone understands the shared goal and their part in achieving it. I monitor the progress of each

task, ensuring they align with the overall project timeline and quality expectations. Moreover, I work to maintain open and effective communication among team members, making sure that everyone has the information and resources they need to succeed.

Assigning owners and collaborators also allows for a clear visual representation of the project structure, often depicted in a responsibility assignment matrix or RACI chart (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed). This visual tool is beneficial for the team, allowing them to see their roles, who they need to collaborate with, and how their tasks feed into the broader project scope.

Benefits of a Shared Goal

Having a shared goal and a clear path to its achievement brings numerous benefits to the project team. It not only aligns the team but also boosts morale and productivity.

1. Team Alignment and Cohesion: When every team member understands the project's goal, they can better understand their role and how it contributes to the broader picture. This understanding helps align all actions and decisions towards the shared goal, creating a cohesive unit working together.

2. Increased Motivatio: A shared goal creates a sense of purpose among team members. They're not just working on isolated tasks; they're contributing to a common vision. This sense of purpose can be incredibly motivating, pushing team members to put in their best effort.

3. Better Collaboration: Breaking down the work and assigning ownership and collaborators fosters better collaboration. Team members understand who they need to work with and can coordinate their efforts more effectively.

4. Enhanced Accountability: With clear ownership comes increased accountability. Team members take responsibility for their tasks, leading to more commitment and higher quality work.

5. More Effective Problem Solving: When a problem arises, the team can quickly and effectively address it because they understand how that problem impacts the shared goal. This understanding leads to faster and more efficient problem-solving.

Final Thoughts

As a Project Leader, one of my primary responsibilities is to guide my team towards our shared goal. This journey begins with understanding the project's scope and breaking it down into manageable activities and actions. By assigning ownership and collaborators for each activity, we create a clear path towards our shared goal, fostering better collaboration, increased motivation, and enhanced accountability.

Our shared goal is more than just the destination; it's our roadmap to success. By working together towards this common vision, we can navigate any challenge that comes our way and ensure that each project we undertake is a success.

The success of a project doesn't just rest on the quality of the output; it lies in the journey undertaken by the team towards a shared goal. Embrace the power of shared goals, break down the scope into manageable activities, assign ownership, and watch as your team navigates their path to project success, piece by piece. Your role as a Project Leader is to create a nurturing environment where your team feels empowered, valued, and driven towards the shared goal, always.

Remember, a team that shares a goal shares success. This shared success is the most rewarding part of our job as Project Leaders. So, let's strive to foster a culture of shared goals in every project we undertake, and let's witness the magic unfold as our teams become more cohesive, productive, and successful in their endeavors.

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