The purpose behind projects

Last week we tried an experiment to help our marketing team understand the perception of our activities within our team. It’s a super simple approach which takes 10 minutes in preparation and 20 minutes in execution.

Why - or the definition of purpose

Defining the purpose behind an action or a project is one of the most important parts of driving things to a success. If you are not clear about the ultimate goal, you will receive mediocre results, you will lose time and money and get distracted. It gets even worse if more than one person is working on a project and there are different perceptions of what the goal should be.

It’s sounds super obvious, but from my experience, purpose and goals are often not clearly communicated. Often people are diving into work and processes in order to achieve something which is not defined as a clear goal yet. Thinking about a clear goal also helps to plan the activities and give you a focus on the most important things.

Or even worse: Sometimes doing seems like the only purpose. You all know situations where someone says things like, “we should be more active on Instagram“ or “we should try tool XYZ“. Those actions can often easily be proved going into wrong directions by asking two simple questions: What is the purpose of doing this and for whom are we doing this? Because then it becomes clear, that those actions are not related to business goals.

All things above are also true for the target group of your actions. If the recipient is not properly defined, your message will not hit right or even address the wrong persons.

A simple experiment

Defining the purpose and the target group of your actions is not an easy task. You might be biased because you were doing things the same way for some time or you’ll fell in love with a quick idea.

In that case it helps to get an extra view on things from another person. It can be colleague or stakeholder. In our case I invited 10 persons from several teams into a room and asked them the following question:

Why do you think we are doing project XYZ and for whom do you think we are doing this?

The projects where all existing marketing activities in different areas. The project owners were also around and part on the survey. Everyone wrote the answers (one sentence each) on a small template and so in the end we got 10 different perceptions on each projects.

The result

Even if projects were around for some time, there were a lot of differences in the purpose people were seeing. In some answers you could see that people were towing the purpose in the direction where it could get the most out of it for their team. Also the wording was not aligned for a lot of activities.

Interestingly, the answers on the target group were mostly really broad. You got the impression that most of the projects were applicable for “everyone“, which sounds great at first turns out to be super bad. If you are targeting everyone, you will reach no one in a substantial way.

From the projects owner standpoint this helped to understand on which part the purpose was differing the most from the perceptions of others. It helps to understand where to highlight the purpose and also where to draw a clear line of what is not included in the project.

So I really encourage you to try this experiment for yourself. In your team and maybe in your private life to get a evaluation with friends and family about topics. I bet the results will be eye opening.