Transformation projects need early victories

Creating early victories is essential in transformation projects.

Recently the Transformation Center asked me to run a workshop and some coaching for the current cohort of Oregon’s Clinical Innovation Fellows.  Sponsored by the Oregon Health Authority, these clinicians spend a year learning about transformational leadership and working on projects that have the potential to transform an aspect of Oregon’s healthcare system.  What a fun group to work with!

Discussion Questions

To prepare for the session, we read several papers.   One of those papers mentioned the importance of setting up healthcare projects to show early (and frequent) victories.    This prompted the group to ask some questions.  What kind of victories work best on transformation projects (for example, process successes or outcome successes)?  Does it depend on who the stakeholders are?

The discussion that followed went like this.

Benefits for Transformation Projects

First, understand the benefits that early victories bring.

  1. Victories boost the morale of the team, making them more creative and productive.
  2. Stakeholders are often easily distracted by new fads (aka “bright, shiny objects”), other pressing responsibilities, or urgent problems. Periodic victories keep them engaged in the transformation project.
  3. Victories build or retain the support of people on the leadership team.  The project most likely cannot move forward if their support fades.
  4. Project work is much more successful when it is organized as a series of small increments rather than a large, monolithic project.  Breaking transformations into small increments, each producing noticeable results, gets fast feedback on what works and doesn’t, allowing innovators to steer the next steps appropriately.

Understand What Matters to Key Stakeholders

Second, notice that these benefits all relate to specific stakeholders – whether sponsors, managers, or project team members.  As the leader of a transformation project, think about the specific people that you’re trying to influence with early victories.   What’s most meaningful to those individuals?  That understanding will guide you on the kind of victories to plan for.

How do you  arrange for early victories in a project or initiative?

Posted in Management, Projects.