Saturday, March 5, 2016
Consulting Project Framework
I have used a framework to guide my consulting projects and internal corporate projects for years. The approach has kept me focused on project completion and has helped in providing data driven solutions for complex problems. The approach to designing a consulting project framework is based on starting with the mission and vision of the organization I am working with and understanding how the objective of the project fits with the mission and vision.
Before next steps are taken there needs to be an assessment of the organization’s current position vis-à-vis the universe in which it exists. Only then can you move forward to developing a strategy, its tactics and an execution plan.
An exercise that should help in gaining clarity for your project relates to the acronym:
Mission – How does the organization service a universal need? This is why the organization exists.
As you consider your next consulting project it is always good to consider how the client’s organization fits in to the scheme of the general universe. Organizations exist to fill some need. This need can help you understand how the organization views its mission. For Coca Cola, their universe is all of the people in the world and one unifying theme is that all people seek happiness and optimism.
Coca Cola’s mission is to bring happiness and optimism to the world.
Vision – How will the organization create value by fulfilling its mission? Remember the organization cannot exist for the long term if it doesn’t create value. Coca Cola has chosen to create value by offering beverages, creating partnerships with bottlers, being a great place to work and providing increasing financial value for its shareholders.
Objective – What action can be taken to enhance the vision and is in keeping with the mission? This exercise is where managers and consultants can experience some difficulty. The initial objective statement may be something like - “What new business should we be in?”
Refining the scope of the objective requires the manager or consultant to fully understand the vision and mission. For example getting into providing low cost, high quality housing might fit into the mission of Coca Cola but not the vision.
Situation Analysis – What is the nature of the universe in which the organization must survive? Who are the competitors? How big is the market? What share of the market is required? What are the organization’s strengths and weaknesses? What are the opportunities and threats? What are the legal and technical challenges?
Remember any changes that are recommended must consider the current organizational structure, the people making up the organization and all of the constraints facing the organization. One of the biggest errors that can be made is moving to strategy development, tactics or execution phases before completing an exhaustive situation analysis. Think of this process as analogous to taking a trip. It would be like deciding to take a trip to Atlanta from San Francisco without understanding the costs of travel, the travel mode options, the best route, the weather conditions and so on.
Strategy – Based on an exhaustive study of the mission, vision, objective and situation analysis, what should be done to reach the assigned objective? In most cases this will push the manager or consultant in a direction that provides a macro view solution. In other words, rather than being in just the cola business or considering adding a new soft drink flavor what other beverages would support the mission and vision of Coca Cola? What new approaches to beverage distribution might provide value?
Tactics – Based on the strategy defined above, what combination of manpower, methods, money and machinery will be required to implement the strategy successfully? This is the plan.
Execution – After developing an understanding the resources that will be required, how will these resources be organized, directed and controlled (outcomes measured against goals)?
At the end of your project your recommendation should have all of the above elements included. As you proceed through your project searching for a strategy, you may feel like you are not making progress. If this happens, go back through the MVOSSTE framework to see what you have missed or could have considered differently.