Next, for any project that looks like it would take five days or less, copy the project into the list item column. If the project would take more than 5 days to accomplish, either break it down into 5 day chunks with specific deliverables, and list these in the item column, or create an item called "Planning", which will be to do this breakdown, and place that in the item column.
One of the key reasons for ensuring items can be done in less than 5 days is that it gives you the power to manage client commitments around them. If your item is a 3 weeker, and a client need comes up, it's highly likely you'll stop the project mid-step, and the work done will be lost.
You should now have a list of items which require no more than 5 days to accomplish. Every item on your list has a direct lineage back to a goal that you've decided to prioritise for your company this year. That does two things:
- It provides a mechanism to turn your strategy into reality;
- It provides your team with assurance that what they're doing is important, and not just some off-the-cuff time-filler until the next bit of client work comes up.
So for instance, if you have a strategic goal to, say, "Develop IP that we can use in our delivery in order to increase the value delivered to clients and allow us to innovate at a higher level", then that could translate to the following items:
- For a consultancy which does data work (e.g. BI or data science), your list could contain items such as "complete nnn feature in our ETL framework", or "find tools aligned with our methodology for correlation analysis".
- If you do agency work, then perhaps this could include "create reusable design artefacts as templates for financial services clients" or "take lessons from nnn project and incorporate them in our persona development process".
Here's what that would look like in a table (We go into Control and Artefacts, which are essential for turning this list from a passive one to one that gets done, later).