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Beyond the Finish Line: The Continuous Journey of Goal Achievement


The Finish Line Fallacy


Long-distance runners understand that crossing the finish line is not the conclusion but the beginning of a crucial phase. The post-race routine involves activities like warming down, taking ice baths, and resting – essential steps to ensure a quick recovery and sustained performance ready for the next race..


Similarly, executives and their support teams must recognize that achieving project goals is only the first step in a more extended process. The finishing line is not the end but merely another milestone in a continuous journey.

 

The Project Implementation Pitfall


Many projects, despite meticulous planning and execution, falter post-implementation.

The misconception that the finish line signifies success can lead to neglecting critical aspects that determine the project's true impact. For example; the benefits envisioned during the project planning phase may remain unrealized, and the potential for continuous improvement may be overlooked.

 

Post-Implementation Stewards

The role of a project post-implementation steward is crucial in ensuring that the benefits envisioned during the project planning phase are not only realized but sustained over time. This role involves actively managing the post-implementation phase, addressing challenges, and overseeing various tasks that contribute to the ongoing success of the project.


As an executive assistant, acting on behalf of your executive, you can effectively take on the responsibilities of a post-implementation steward, either by directly executing the tasks or by ensuring their timely completion through coordination with relevant stakeholders.

 

Benefits Realization


  • Direct Responsibility: An executive assistant as a post-implementation steward may actively monitor and track the realization of anticipated benefits outlined in the project plan. This involves comparing projected outcomes with the actual results and identifying any discrepancies.

  • Accountability for Task Completion: Alternatively, the executive assistant may coordinate with project managers, team members, and other stakeholders to ensure that someone is specifically responsible for benefits realization. Regular check-ins and progress assessments become part of the steward's role.

 

Problem Solving


  • Direct Responsibility: An executive assistant in the post-implementation steward role can directly address and solve issues that arise post-implementation. This may involve collaborating with the project team, troubleshooting problems, and implementing corrective actions.

  • Accountability for Task Completion: Alternatively, the executive assistant can ensure that a designated team or individual is responsible for addressing and solving problems. They may oversee the implementation of solutions and track the resolution of issues.

 

Documentation and Lessons Learned


  • Direct Responsibility: The post-implementation steward, in this case, an executive assistant, may take charge of documenting the entire post-implementation process. This includes capturing lessons learned, successes, challenges, and best practices for future reference.

  • Accountability for Task Completion: Alternatively, the executive assistant can collaborate with project managers and team members to ensure that the documentation process is assigned to responsible individuals. They play a role in reviewing and consolidating these insights.

 

Stakeholder Communication


  • Direct Responsibility: The executive assistant can take on the responsibility of maintaining open and transparent communication with stakeholders. This involves updating them on the project's post-implementation progress, addressing concerns, and ensuring alignment with organizational goals.

  • Accountability for Task Completion: The executive assistant, in the role of a post-implementation steward, can delegate the responsibility of stakeholder communication to specific team members. They ensure that regular updates and feedback mechanisms are in place.

 

Continuous Improvement Initiatives


  • Direct Responsibility: The executive assistant, as a proactive post-implementation steward, may spearhead continuous improvement initiatives. This involves identifying areas for optimization, suggesting enhancements, and driving initiatives that contribute to ongoing project success.

  • Accountability for Task Completion: Alternatively, the executive assistant can work with relevant teams to assign responsibilities for continuous improvement, ensuring that specific individuals or groups are accountable for implementing suggested enhancements.

 

 

The Continuous Journey of Goal Achievement

 

Executives and their support teams must shift their mindset from viewing project completion as the end to understanding it as a checkpoint in an ongoing journey.


By adopting the analogy of a long-distance runner, they can appreciate the importance of post-implementation activities, ensuring that the benefits are realized, bugs are managed, subsequent changes are smoothly integrated, and lessons learned are documented. This holistic approach transforms projects from mere achievements into sustained successes, contributing to the long-term success of the organization.


By assuming the role of a project post-implementation steward you, as an executive assistant, will not only facilitate the seamless transition from project completion to operational success but also contributes to the overall effectiveness and sustainability of your organization's initiatives whilst gaining recognition as an integral part of the project team.

 


About the Author:

Richard Arnott, BA, FInatAM, FIToL, is the Director of BMTG (UK) Ltd, and the author and lead presenter of the groundbreaking, globally recognised Advanced Certificate for the Executive Assistant: ACEA® program. Richard also sits on the editorial board of Lucy Brazier OBE’s Executive Support Magazine


Please connect with Richard on Linkedin and please also join our LinkedIn group, "The Advanced Certificate for the Executive Assistant: ACEA®," to connect with a community of forward-thinking executive assistants committed to career growth and development

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