By Laini Dubach
Lead Medical Writer
Process vs goals. Goals vs process. It’s easy to think of one playing a more important role when you set out to complete a project. It is, however, a made-up choice. Goals set the vision of what could be, but without process, they remain pipe dreams. And process may be the horsepower that drives a team, but without a goal, its power is unbridled, aimless. The fact is they are equally vital to any project. It’s the combination that allows you to collaborate with your team and ultimately produce high-quality work.
That said, by improving your understanding of both your goals and your process, you’ll be better able to synchronize them in the most productive manner. So, let’s take a closer look at the factors that influence each.
Of course, the first step in completing your project is to figure out what you need to achieve. This is often easier said than done. Consider the following as you determine the goals for your next project.
- Align with your stakeholders on deliverables.
Do you need a storyboard, a workshop, a complete curriculum, a print document? Before setting that choice in stone, talk with your team and, if you have one, your vendor. They may have a different solution or unique approach. Only determine your deliverable after discussing it thoroughly.
- Set a deadline.
As you create both short-term and final project deadlines, be sure they are reasonable and achievable. Discuss them with all stakeholders and ensure that everyone agrees to be accountable to meeting these deadlines. Keep in mind that the quickest way may not be the best way.
- Agree on the budget.
Though we might wish for infinitely large budgets, that’s never the case. Let your budget cap work for you by helping you set parameters on—and help determine—your goals. Then, be sure to stick to that budget limit. This usually means choosing between what’s nice to have versus what you need to have.
- Anticipate obstacles.
Take time to consider what may interfere with reaching your goals. Plan for as many contingencies as you’re able. Know that the road to achieving most goals is rarely smooth, but being prepared for potential obstacles may make them easier—and less stressful—to address.
- Share your passion for the project.
Letting your team and stakeholders know how excited you are about being successful can, in turn, inspire them to work harder and achieve more. So, look for ways to show that you are determined, resourceful, and ready to make it happen.
The process for achieving your goals is the journey you will undertake to reach the endpoint. It includes planning, teamwork, and collaboration to deliver the finished product—and may involve a wide array of subject matter experts and stakeholders. As you determine your process, consider the following.
Effective communication with your team members may be the most crucial aspect of the process. This includes:
- Establishing the best means of communication for your team (email, in-person, Zoom, etc);
- Asking for help when needed;
- Sharing thoughts, concerns, and ideas;
- Never assuming others are on the same page as you;
- Challenging others’ ways of thinking in order to encourage new insights; and
- Remembering that you are not alone.
- Manage your time.
Time management skills are vital to the process. Although the final deadline must be met, managing your time on a daily basis is just as important.
- Control the number of meetings to avoid disrupting the flow of work or frustrating your team.
- Create a daily plan of tasks to drive personal productivity.
- Be open to innovative ideas.
New technology, new team members, and new clients may all influence the process for completing work. What was successful in the past may not still be best. Take time to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of potential changes in the process.
- Know your role and the roles of your team members.
Understanding and respecting what each member of the team does—and how long it takes them to complete their task—builds rapport and better enables collaboration.
- Trust team members.
Once you pass the job along to the next person, let it go (until it comes back to you).
- Take breaks.
We often get so focused on the job at hand and our desire to get our part done that we forget to take a step away from the desk. Yet research has shown that taking a break during your work can increase your productivity.
So, next time you celebrate a team success, don’t forget to acknowledge—and learn from—how the marriage of your goals and process got you there!
Laini Dubach brings more than 25 years of medical writing, editing, and proofreading experience to Encompass. Her background covers a multitude of therapeutic areas that include cardiovascular disease, HIV, migraine, oncology, vaccines, women’s healthcare, and more. Laini holds an undergraduate degree in advertising and a master’s degree in biology.