What we learned from Next Economy

projectsNext Economy is a local nonprofit that focuses on increasing and enhancing the region’s five-year jobs plan. Although the entirety of Next Economy’s vision has been described as too vast and overambitious, the initial findings and implementation of its ideas really created the groundwork for many projects to begin flourishing. Farm-to-fork, career technical education programs or (CTEs) in high schools, an international trade plan, and a string of small business consulting centers across six counties are a few of the projects that sprung up out of the original focus.

Although not every project launched is going to be 100% successful, it is important to note all the positives that result from the efforts. In business, many times an employee or manager is unable to fulfill their vision, desire or project for various reasons; being overly ambitious can be one of those reasons. While an incomplete or failed project is frustrating and can leave the employee or manager dejected, looking at the reasons why it failed can lead to some positive outcomes.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when a project cannot be completed:

  1. Were we overly ambitious?

This is a key question because being overly ambitious means you should be able to scale the project back and add less critical project pieces to a list of future accomplishments. Re-focus on goals you really want to accomplish and don’t be afraid to move the other, less important ideas to the background for a bit.

  1. What did we learn from this attempt?

Looking at where you went wrong and how to make it better is GREAT when training managers and employees to not be afraid to look at themselves and problem solve. A good employee or manager will be able to constructively identify where the problem happened and either correct it or make sure not to repeat the mistake.

  1. What did we get right?

Many times we get stuck on where things went wrong, but looking at what you got right is uplifting and positive. It will reassure the team that their time was not wasted and that their manager cares about what they did do right and how hard they were working.

  1. What can we still do with this project?

Maybe bits and pieces of this project are still salvageable. An idea someone had while brainstorming or a sub-project might be the extra push someone needs to start an entirely new project that would flourish.

  1. What was difficult to complete?

Looking at the difficult areas that may have hindered the success of a project allows all parties to determine where problems happened. Understanding the issues leads to not replicating them in the future.

A completed project always brings joy and satisfaction to the project committee, but remember that a failed project or incomplete project can create just as much learning and progression as its successful counterpart.

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