For Impact


Everything’s a Project

Team Development, Team Development | | Tom Suddes

Here’s a very simple way to get stuff done: Make EVERYTHING A PROJECT!

This simple concept, guiding principle if you will, is for anybody who is trying to achieve a goal, make a quantum leap or change the world.

This idea has been developed over the last 15 to 20 years within our company and with our clients. It drives everything we do.

Here are the 8 steps of every PROJECT.

  • Team Leader
  • Project Team
  • Goals
  • Resources
  • Barriers/Constraints
  • Time Table
  • Measurement
  • Action Plan


Shorthand takeaways:

  • Team Leader: Obviously, critical decision. This pick needs to underscore the idea of ‘WHO’ not ‘HOW!’ The right Team Leader will do whatever it takes to reach the project’s goals. They will be collaborative coaches … but also be able to make decisions. Paraphrasing Bill Gates, the strategy for a given project must be in one person’s head.
  • Project Team: This is all about TALENT. Diverse. Eclectic. Focused on strengths. Clear roles. (Steve Elder, an incredible leader on our For Impact Team, says, “If your Project Team can’t fit in a mini-van, it’s too big.”)
  • Goals: Clear. Concise. Compelling. Must define ‘success.’ Believable. Achievable. Always better if big, hairy and audacious. (Goal should translate into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.)
  • Resources: People. Money. Tools. Support. Internal and External. Need vs. want.
  • Barriers/Constraints: Direct tie to resources. Scope. Budget. Size. Simplicity. ‘White Space.’ Rule of 3. ANYBODY can do just about ANYTHING with an UNLIMITED BUDGET and NO TIME LIMIT! Constraints are what makes this a project.
  • Time Table: Not just a CONSTRAINT, but a way to set benchmarks, control flow, create AFE’s (Action Forcing Events).
  • Measurement: Again, Benchmarks. Sub-Goals. Critical Path. Accountability. Evaluation. Opportunities. And more. (Ancient cliché, but still rings true: “You GET what you MEASURE.”)
  • Action Plan: Use these first 7 steps to create a simple, understandable, measurable ACTION PLAN that allows for constant FEEDBACK (adjustments, pivots, reallocation, etc.) and FEED FORWARD (Focus on the goals, etc.).

Some things we’ve learned:

  • Think like Hollywood Talent Agencies. They hire for the role and the project. Every movie is a project. You bring together the most talented people you can, without regard to the department or org chart. Everyone comes together, does what they’re best at, and takes the project from concept to finished film. Then they disband and start again.
  • ‘The Ticket Is Printed.’ One of my favorite Disney ideas. When they put together a project and project team for a new ride/experience … the project team is given a date (deadline)… and then told that “The ticket is printed!” In other words, there’s going to be a line of kids (and their parents) waiting on that given day to get on the ride. (Therefore, it better be done.)
  • Scope of a PROJECT. Can range from a $300 Million Campaign to a 1-Night Signature Event … and everything in between.
    • Every level of the Today | Tomorrow | Forever Model is a project.
      (Leadership Societies, President Circles, Project Initiatives, Legacy Goals, etc.)
    • The 3 Circles/3 Buckets are PROJECTS, as well as the Programs and Priorities within each.
    • Every one of our TOP INVESTORS is a PROJECT … demanding a strategy, action plan, etc.
  • No Team ‘Meetings.’
    • Rather, gather team together whenever needed for brainstorming, mind mapping, engagement, whatever.
    • Disseminate information before the gathering.
    • Quick review of goals and status.
    • Make everything actionable. (“We can actually do something when we leave.”)
    • Always consider/challenge WHO attends the gathering and WHY.
    • As James Carville says, “Winners do. Losers meet.” (He goes on to say, “Absent a major peace negotiation, a complicated merger or a complex legal settlement, there is no reason on earth to have a meeting last more than 30 minutes.”)
  • Every team is made up of ‘I’ndividuals. The saying, “There is no ‘I’ in TEAM” is an absolute crock. Every team is made up of ‘I’ndividuals; and the SUCCESS of the team is a function of how well these ‘I’ndividuals mesh and perform.
  • 3 Parts to a Project.
    Here’s a great thought from Steven Pressfield’s terrific e-book, Do the Work. He says that “Every project can be divided into 3 parts: beginning, middle, end.”
    Then he simply says, “Decide what comprises the beginning, the middle and the end … and then fill in the gaps!
    He also says to constantly ask this question, “What is this damn thing (PROJECT) about? (What’s the goal? What’s the theme? What does success look like?)”
  • 3 P’s – Practice … Process … Performance. Each one needed for each individual and the team as a whole.
  • CELEBRATE … early and often. CELEBRATE small wins, benchmarks achieved, sub-goals reached … and, of course, every FAILURE! (If you’re not FAILING somewhere within your project … you’re not pushing hard enough.)