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What are some ways you navigate the pivot from engaging with colleagues from a place of collaboration and ideation towards a stance of execution and accountability as deadlines approach?

6 Answers
Jessica Gilmartin
Jessica Gilmartin
Calendly Chief Marketing OfficerAugust 18

We care a lot about clarity, both for our customers and our internal teams. So it’s important for us to build clarity into every step of the planning process:

  •  First, we align on goals: We don’t start any project until the team is aligned on the project’s goals and how they ultimately ladder up to our company’s key objectives and mission. On an individual and team level, goals help everyone understand why their work matters and what they should be working towards.
  •  Next, we answer the big questions: We create a clear project brief and set up a kick-off meeting including key stakeholders, always pointing back to the project’s objective and how it’s moving the business forward.
  •  Then, we figure out who’s on first: Once we’ve agreed on the brief and the goals, then we assign tasks and owners (in Asana of course!). The project owner’s job is to hold everyone on the team accountable for their deadlines and deliverables. With distributed/remote/hybrid teams, every decision and action item has to be written down and agreed to ahead of time.

Finally, we communicate with urgency and purpose: The project owner’s role is to constantly check in with key stakeholders on progress, report out regular updates to the team (usually monthly at the beginning of a project, and weekly or even daily as the deadline approaches), and help reshuffle timelines and scope if workloads and priorities change.

2368 Views
Tamara Niesen
Tamara Niesen
WooCommerce CMODecember 5

Context: I work in a relatively matrixed organization and see a lot of stakeholders across the organization come together to deliver on a shared goal, mission, or solve a problem. See below for my lengthy, tactical response. 

In short- the key to successfully navigating the pivot from collaboration and ideation to execution and accountability is to establish and align on clear goals and priorities, identify a SINGLE champion, break the project down into manageable tasks for workstream leads, and provide support and direction to team members in a structured cadence of status updates, roadblock sharing and mitigation, and where required, escalations to pre-identified decision makers:

If you don’t already have a framework in place, I highly recommend investing time in developing a common framework on how multiple groups come together to work on a project, develop and launch a product, campaign, etc; a process with various tasks, identified owners at a discipline level, checkpoints, and approvers. Now, let’s be real, even if you have this, we all know that process doesn’t always perfectly apply!

Regardless of where you are at in your collaboration effort, I recommend getting the idea into a brief or proposal template, even if it’s a v1 draft/outline:

  • Problem to be solved
  • Why it's worth solving
  • What will it accomplish
  • What does success look like
  • Resources required

Once the group is aligned on the idea proposal, approvals are in place (if required), you move to execution (again, I cannot stress this enough- if a brief or proposal is not created, create one. You cannot execute if you aren’t on the same page on what you are trying to accomplish).

Intentionally shift the discussion from ideation to execution, hold a conversation and title it “Execution Phase, Build Sync”, something that makes it clear what you are aligning on (this can be done async or in a meeting). Reiterate problem statement and success criteria that the group has aligned on, and then pivot to key priorities, deliverables, and respective work back schedules.

From here, apply the RACI or RASCI model (or a similar model):

  • Assign a project sponsor or accountable owner.
  • Assign a single champion for the overall project and breakdown the project into smaller projects, or workstreams. This creates one champion for the overall project, and multiple workstream owners responsible for smaller aspects of the project- making it more manageable to work in parallel and move faster.
  • The project champion: this individual is responsible for keeping the team on track and hosting the project rituals; this person represents the workstream owner’s progress, escalates roadblocks and communicates overall progress to the relevant stakeholders.
    • Note: I recognize this could be awkward….i.e. if a group of peers is coming together to decide this, you should be comfortable in nominating and aligning on the most suitable champion. If you cannot do this (and there could be many factors at play), you may need to bring in more senior decision makers to help make this decision and that’s okay. In group work, transparent escalation can be a powerful tool (more on that in a later response).
    • Once you have done this a few times, process, templates, tools, can help reduce the awkwardness.
  • Workstream leads: assign workstream owners with their deliverables and workback schedules (i.e. if for a campaign, you might have a content workstream owner, a channel workstream owner, creative design owner).
  • Regular status updates, approval points are key to ensuring timelines are met - if the timeline is tight, consider short daily standups with mid week deep dives, and if it’s overly complex, each workstream might have their own set of rituals too (ideally avoid this- too many silos can create duplication of work, miscommunication).

Clear goals, priorities, a single threaded champion, dedicated workstreams with workstream leaders, regular syncs and checkpoints are essential to ensuring everyone is working towards the same objectives, and can help to keep the team focused and motivated as the deadline approaches.

432 Views
Erika Barbosa
Erika Barbosa
Counterpart Marketing LeadFebruary 22

I believe the key to this is to set clear expectations from the beginning. Communicate the project framework in your kickoff or initial call. If this foundation is laid from the beginning, it won’t be interpreted as a pivot. It will be interpreted as carrying through what you initially outlined.

There needs to be a clear owner of the project, collaborators and identified individuals who need to be informed (or a similar framework). Proactively keep the team informed. Celebrate successes along the way. Provide performance readouts on an ongoing cadence.

Lastly, I view this question from the perspective of clearly communicating and continuously getting ahead of questions. I believe laying the infrastructure or foundation in this way gets ahead of many concerns that could surface.

397 Views
Kexin Chen
Kexin Chen
Salesforce Vice President, C-Suite MarketingApril 25

With the start of every program, ideation is critical in inspiring collaboration and partnership. As we get ready for execution, I always recommend a few of these tips:

  1. Have an identified person who runs the project management and ensures there is clearly defined roles and responsibilities for the group.

  2. To drive accountability, I recommend a work back plan and documentation of the key collaborators who are helping bring the initiative to reality. This may require 1:1 convos for alignment prior to the broader team meetings to move into execution.

  3. Having a clear kick off with the shared vision of the initiative, RACI defined, and key milestones from the work back plan will help drive alignment of the execution. Then sharing this with the broader group stakeholders of the involved parties with set milestones to share and socialization project progress will ensure the group is collectively aligned in meeting specific deadlines.

439 Views
Katie Jane Parkes
Katie Jane Parkes
Nexus Communications VP of CreativeOctober 3

If you're not using a project brief and implementing the RASCI matrix/model then start doing both of these things now. Make sure the project owner is someone who can walk everyone through the brief, is comfortable with being firm about deadlines, keeps feedback loops tight, and sets both clear expectations and boundaries within project roles and responsibilities.

Having regular checkins, using project chats for frequent updates, and using tools like Asana, Notion, Monday.com, etc. to keep everyone accountable and on time is also very helpful.

340 Views
Sheridan Gaenger
Sheridan Gaenger
Own VP of Growth MarketingJune 12

Navigating the pivot from collaboration and ideation to execution and accountability requires structure, project planning, swimlanes and clear communication. Simple frameworks will be your lifeline in this process. Here are some things to take into account and the seven checkboxes I have on my desk when beginning a new project:

  1. Establish Clear Frameworks: Implement a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) or DACI (Driver, Approver, Contributor, Informed) model to define roles and responsibilities. This clarity helps everyone understand their specific duties and the expectations placed on them as the project moves towards execution. Don’t move forward with a project without one. Full stop.

  2. Create and Share a Project Plan: Develop a detailed project plan outlining tasks, deadlines, and responsible parties. Regularly update and share this plan with all team members (via email and Slack, some people love one while others not so much) to ensure everyone is aligned and aware of their responsibilities and timelines.

  3. Don’t run a meeting with an agenda: For each meeting, prepare and distribute a clear agenda in advance. Include a pre-read when possible to ensure everyone is informed and ready to contribute. This helps keep meetings focused and productive, especially as you transition to the execution phase. If you are the driver, DRIVE these and be the voice commanding the room.

  4. Maintain Engagement: During meetings, keep the room engaged and on point. Stick to the agenda and avoid deviations to ensure that discussions remain relevant and time is used efficiently. Encourage active participation and address any concerns promptly to maintain momentum.

  5. Shift Focus to Execution: As deadlines approach, explicitly communicate the shift from brainstorming to execution. Up the communication cadence. Reinforce the importance of meeting deadlines and the need for accountability. Emphasize the specific tasks and milestones that need to be achieved and the impact of timely execution on the overall project success.

  6. Monitor Progress and Accountability: Regularly review progress against the project plan. Hold team members accountable for their deliverables through check-ins and status updates. Use the RACI or DACI framework to ensure everyone understands their role in meeting deadlines.

  7. Adapt and Stay Flexible: Trains can derail. Be prepared to adapt the plan as necessary while keeping the team focused on the end goals. Address any roadblocks or issues promptly and reassign tasks if needed to keep the project on track.

By following these strategies, you can smoothly transition from brainstorming together to getting things done efficiently. This way, your team stays focused, responsible, and productive as deadlines get closer.

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