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Diving into a new project is an exciting challenge, but it takes time to develop context, address stakeholder needs, and meaningfully understand the problem. Without even realizing it, we begin to work with blinders on. We can overlook important perspectives outside of the project, reinvent the wheel, and duplicate work. When we miss opportunities to reach out to others and share our work, it ultimately reduces true business impact and can often result in projects that miss their mark.
How can we shift our thinking, take our blinkers off and ensure we’re sharing our work in a more inclusive way? These questions can be answered by a familiar model – that which the film industry has used to support movie releases for decades.
We can all relate to anticipation of an upcoming film – from the announcement of a movie to the cast of the big Hollywood project. Advertisements are inescapable – they’re on the side of our bus to work, they’re in the magazine we’re reading, and they’re infiltrating our social media feeds, podcasts, and television shows.
As the divide between the physical and digital worlds blurs, audiences want to feel like they’re part of the project. By providing interested parties with relevant information, film crews can nurture a sense of community and excitement.
Applying this familiar model, we can transform how a project is executed and shared, reduce unforeseen work, eliminate duplication, and most importantly, increase the success of our output. Here, we’ll dive into the ways we can apply the film industry’s tried and tested model to future projects.
Start with the concept, decide the problem to be solved, and gather all relevant historical context. That means acknowledging the needs of your audience or customers, and the ways this work will impact them – both positively and negatively. Document this step with in-depth notes, seeking feedback from contributors.
Transform the idea into a project outline with your audience (anyone who’ll be involved with the project) in mind. Make sure to include essential context, the problem statement and desired outcome. Link all relevant documents and resources to provide a holistic overview of the topic.
Ask yourself “Who can help me with this project?” and “Could other departments benefit from exposure to this work?”. Select those who are most relevant and ask them who else should be included in the work.
Define your DACI, mapping out the project-specific Driver(s), Approver(s), Contributor(s), and those who will be informed as the project progresses.
You’ve addressed your concept and problem, and planned the steps you need to take to create your output. Depending on your area of expertise, the format of the output will vary (e.g., it might be a written document, presentation, data analysis, design, video, etc.).
Give yourself space and time to reflect and review. Address any new questions raised in the output and share the strawman proposal with the key stakeholder group.
This is your opportunity to create hype and momentum around the project. Depending on the output, the trailer can appear in different formats – from a one-page project overview to highlight reels, a dashboard, or designs. It’s also an opportunity to share information about the delivery date and encourage attendance.
This is your chance to present to a smaller audience i.e., the DACI(Driver(s), Approver(s), Contributor(s), and those who will be Informed) an editing stage to review the work. It allows you to gather initial feedback and update the output ahead of the wider launch date.
This is the project deadline – the day you share your work with a wider audience, including your stakeholders and interested parties. It is a great opportunity to present the content, your plan for it, and its potential impact on your team and the wider company. Record the session and promote re-watching and further sharing of the content.
Welcome feedback and gather perspectives from the audience, whether through a form, a listening tour, or direct messages. Feedback is a gift, and this stage is crucial to understanding the project impact and how the output will influence decisions. It also determines whether there will be a potential sequel, or the need for more work off the back of this output.
Maximize the staying power of the project over time to ensure the project has longevity and momentum is maintained months after. Take every opportunity to reshare your content whenever relevant. Depending on the project type this may even be an opportunity to create a franchise by carrying out additional analysis and maintaining data over time to continue creating value – much like the film industry does with merchandising.
The goal of this process is not to change your project stages completely, but instead to make them more effective and impactful. It’s time to be noticed and let people celebrate your work!
Start small and begin to apply aspects of this model to your next project, thinking outside of your function (e.g., sharing with the product, marketing, sales, and finance teams) and reaching wider to connect with other stakeholders who are keen to collaborate.
Whether you are starting off in your career or a leader – everyone can take something from this process.
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