The most famous example of right-to-left planning I can evoke is –

That the United States should set as a goal the “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” by the end of the decade

Powerfull stuff, no messing around, but with a budget of $19.6bn you get a flying start. The engineering that went into the Apollo missions is astonishing. It’s a simple idea, set a deadline date and work backwards, right to left. Set the project team the task of creating a delivery plan to meet the set-in-stone delivery date. Let’s look at the Six Sigma Goal statement using the industry-standard template as follows:

To Increase/Decrease the Metric from Baseline Level to Goal Level by Timeframe

We fix this time constraint during Define. Of course it is within the project teams control to set the timeframe, but that is by no means always the case. There is the industry benchmark of 3-months to aim for and business expectations of rapid results.

That leaves the two other constraints – Cost & Quality. What tends to come next? Which is the more tangible, readily measurable and universally understood? No obscure conversations – “what does quality mean to you?” – everyone understands cost. The project defines its costs and gets the budget approved.

We now have two fixed constraints which leaves one more to flex, the quality of the project. So you could debate the logic here and cover alternative situations & scenarios within this project-based paradigm. But the real point I am looking to make is – Are projects always the best way of continuously improving business performance? Does anyone have experience of non-Project based delivery? Does it work or do you need to have project structures and the norms of project management? Could the goal read?

To Continuously Improve the Metric

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