Friday, 16 April 2010

Controlling the mission

A briefing bit of musing based on an experience I had recently. I was sitting in a meeting a few days ago and the conversation turned to strategy. I used the phrase 'mission creep' which led to the room turning to look at me like I'd grown a second head.

A strategy is only as useful as the level to which you adhere to it, and to which your activity supports it. But I've seen, both from personal experience and second hand, that all too often the fundamental strategy is seen as an optional extra and falls by the wayside in the face of activity which leads you down the metaphorical rabbithole.

Mission creep is the term which I prefer to use. It's a military term and refers to the expansion of a mission beyond its original parameters. Too often this is the case with a strategic objective. Ancillary activity degrades the primary focus and over time there is a shift towards this ancillary activity over the strategic goal. Often this occurs because the ancillary activity is immediate and convenient, as opposed to the strategic goal which is far off and challenging to achieve.

I'm now at the stage where I will physically write down the strategic goal of a project and weigh activity against the strategy before committing significant amounts of time to it. This can be challenging as clients will often ask me to undertake activity which doesnt support the goal. Now in these cases you often have to roll over, but it is well worth trying to convince the client to reconsider, at least once.

I will continue musing on this topic as it's something which frustrates and fascinates me in equal measure.

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