This post is part of a series on creativity and project management.
We’ve made prototypes and have tested them with a small group of customers. We’ve set a deadline for when we will launch our project to the public. Hitting this goal is something to celebrate. But it’s also a point where the work we are doing shifts.
We inventors tend to think that once we launch our project we will spend most of our time and energy making and delivering our product to our customers. But we soon find out that this is not the case. What we discover is that once we launch, other things need our attention, and when these things go unattended they turn into a big mess of things that need attending to.
This mess drains our energy as we spend it running from one urgency to the next. Thus we have less energy for tending to relationships and for strategic thinking.
TASKS, STAKEHOLDERS, & STRATEGY [*reclaim your energy]
TASKS: things we can “automate”
If we can “automate” some tasks, then we have energy for tending to relationships and to strategic thinking. By automate I don’t mean digitizing our processes, though we may decide to do that where it makes sense. No, I mean to flow our tasks into a schedule, such as “the books get updated every other Tuesday from 10-11”; “the newsletter gets written and sent once a month on the third Wednesday”; “materials get ordered every Thursday afternoon.”
Of course we can stray from the schedule sometimes. Life happens. But when we have a schedule in place, we’re freed to spend our energy on key relationships and on thinking about the future.
STAKEHOLDERS: people involved in our project [*design with others]
Customers. Our early customers are “early adopters.” We must give them special attention because they are helping us resolve the kinks in our project in its first edition. But we must also be mindful that their feedback isn’t always applicable to our next group of customers, called “the early majority.”
Our Support System. Our support system can be employees, family, and friends. If we benefit from their support, then we need to give consistent and generous attention to those relationships. This doesn’t necessarily mean daily attention, but certainly consistent and dependable attention.
Strategic Partners. If we make a product or service and rely on a partner to handle, for example, sales, then we have a “strategic partner.” If we give them something in return, they will work hard for us. Sometimes it’s money, but sometimes we can support their goals in other ways.
. Say we make a product that relies heavily on good raw materials, then we need to have an attentive relationship with those who have those materials. When they struggle, we want to know about it so we can support them. On the other hand, for our mutual needs, when they have something new to offer we want to know about that as well.
STRATEGY: thinking about the future [*see the future]
We have automated our tasks as much as possible, freeing us up for the necessary work ahead of us. We have tended well to stakeholder relationships, preparing us to position ourselves for our next move. We are now prepared to strategize.