What is an “Executive Project” and how does BSP help leaders and teams get them done?
An Executive Project is vague, strategic, and unique, and always led by an executive at an organization. We help teams of all sizes get them done faster.
Talk to any executive leader at an organization that’s growing fast — from founder or CEO to Chief Operating or Chief Financial Officer — and they’ll tell you there’s never enough time in the day. There’s no end to the day-to-day projects that require their attention, and no time for them to do the work that only they can do.
While they spend their days helping customers, clients, sending invoices or packing orders, the marketing or sales strategy they desperately need to develop and implement sits dormant, their financial planning or pending reorganization gets pushed to the back-burner. With a packed schedule, there’s very little time to think big picture and plan for the future.
At BSP, we separate projects into two categories: Operational and Executive.
Operational Projects are clearly defined, tactical, and repetitive.
Executive Projects are vague, strategic, and unique.
Let’s break down what that means.
Executive projects are vague
The easiest way to figure out if something is an Operational or Executive Project is asking if you know what the goal of the project and the process are.
If a clearly defined goal and process already exist, it’s not an Executive Project, it’s an Operational Project and, if you have the bandwidth, somebody that’s not at a senior level in the organization should probably be managing it.
If a goal and/or process do not exist, it’s an Executive project, and it’s going to require executive and senior team time to first settle on goals, prioritization, strategy, and a process to get it done.
Executive projects are strategic
While Operational projects are about running and refining a pre-defined strategy or process to accomplish a goal, Executive Projects require a lot of strategic thought up front because you’re building a new muscle, not strengthening an existing one.
So before you kick a new project or initiative off, you’ve got to ask:
- Is this aligned with our overall goals as an organization?
- Is this the best way to spend my and my organization’s time? Do we have the bandwidth?
- Where does this project or initiative fall in terms of prioritization?
- How do we get this off the ground, evaluate, iterate, and build standard operating procedures around it if it has staying power?
- How well defined is this project, and what are our phases?
These are generic questions. Most Executive Projects require a very specific set of strategic questions—putting together a strategy to design and implement a new financial model is different than doing the same to rethink employee onboarding, for example.
Regardless, these are the most basic questions an executive leader or team should be asking before they get something new off the ground.
These questions alone take time and, if done right, involve getting input from key stakeholders, including clients or customers and team members, to make sure there’s buy-in before a project kicks off.
Executive projects are unique
As you build a strategy, define your goals, and your process, one thing will become very clear: your product or service is unique, your clients or customers are unique, your team is unique, you as a leader are unique.
That means the projects and initiatives you choose to take on are going to be unique, and it means the way you choose to get them done is going to be unique, too.
Deciding not just which Executive Project or initiative to take on, but how to take it on is a powerful way to further define and refine elements of your organization’s culture.
Every new Executive Project creates opportunities for you to engage your team, your customers or clients, and community in different ways that are in-line with your organization’s vision, mission, and values. Every new Executive Project creates opportunities for you to learn and incorporate new habits, new insights, practices, and processes in to your business.
Taking the time to identify up-front how you’ll take note of those things throughout the process of getting a new Executive Project or initiative off the ground is the key to turning an Executive Project into an Operational Project.
Running a business is a lot of work. Scaling a business is even more work. Every single scale point brings challenges with it—one of the toughest being deciding where to spend your organization’s time.
The goal is to decide which Executive Projects (vague, strategic, unique) are worth your team’s time so you can turn them into Operational Projects (defined, tactical, repetitive) that your team has built habits and processes around.
Doing that takes time. For the executive and senior team, as an organization scales and client or customer demands increase, the question becomes whether or not to spend time running the business, or to spend time thinking strategically about how to grow the business sustainably.
At Blue Sky Partners, we help teams do both—and save money along the way. By hiring us to operationalize Executive Projects, BSP clients have saved an average of $102,000 on executive staffing per year, and increased their team’s productivity by 33%.
Since our launch in December of 2017, we’ve helped more than 50 organizations launch more than 80 departments, initiatives, projects, and products; we’ve helped rethink and launch business models, pricing, and organizational structures by coming onboard as an integrated partner alongside management and leadership teams.