How long will the things that you are working on today last?
If you are building a pyramid, perhaps the answer is 10,000-years. If you are the next Shakespeare, it could be centuries. For most of us, the longevity of what we are busy doing is measured in days, weeks and occasionally years.
In a world where the rate of change grows increasingly quicker, and the disposability of physical items is exceeded only by our filtering and swiping of society’s digital noise, our work has an increasingly short life expectancy.
A website might last 3-years, and maybe chug along outdated for a few years more. Our brands might last 10 years, if we are lucky, although usually the messaging, proof points, products and services change on a much shorter cycle. A lot of our work is calendar driven, the same annual conference, the same monthly meeting, and the same weekly or daily routines.
In the workplace, daily, weekly and monthly activities have a habit of becoming jobs. Functions that the same roles or group of defined people carry out, until they leave and are replaced by someone with the same job function. The evolution of these activities comes about from progressive learning, job function training and norms, and occasionally the infusion of new blood with their experiences from outside of the team.
Strangely we look at annual, and other even less frequently recurring projects, as one-off instances. They become projects rather than jobs, and the wheel gets re-invented every single time.
In Human Resources (HR), it is becoming increasingly common to hear the phrase, ‘persistent teams’. People who re-form as a group for repeating projects with relatively long duration between the repetition.
It is easy to see why.
Among the reasons: people with experience, people who know the ropes, and people with a history of working together. These persistent teams still play ‘musical chairs’ with the natural attrition of staff. However, if they are well managed, there are processes to bring in emerging knowledge and contemporary thinking to supplement the experience and established performance of the persistent team.
The thinking is sound enough, but it is HR driven, rather than objective driven. People’s roles change over time, and there are solid business reasons for being more ambitious than simply ‘getting the band back together’.
The benefit of persistent projects
There is an opportunity for us all to think in terms of persistent projects, rather than teams. The annual conference, the brand refresh, the updated website, the full strategic review, and almost any other set-piece project. The difference is that it’s the project that’s reconvened rather than the team.
The objectives and purpose of the project are reset, the measures and processes evaluated and re-cast, and last of all the resourcing, human and otherwise, are commissioned, scheduled and where appropriate reconvened. It is a subtle but important difference to place the outcomes in first priority, and then build out the best structure for the project’s successful evolution from there.
Changes include adding this initial configuration step, and ending with a project review and documentation that sets up the same informed process for the next iteration of the recurrent project. They can even include scheduling in the next cycle and pre-forecasting the resourcing requirements, and why not the next targeted uplift in performance!
As a business born in events, where the next one must always surpass the one before, CAPITAL-e developed the processes and culture for persistent projects even before the concept came into vogue.
Talk to CAPITAL-e at email@example.com - we stand ready to help design, implement and support your persistent projects. And what a great time 2022 makes for the big reset (a reset of your most important projects, that is).