Checklist Quick Select

Fail Better Checklist #1:
Link Actions to Outcomes

This checklist will help you develop an understanding of what your project is trying to achieve and how the methods you will undertake and the deliverables you will produce lead to those achievements. Begin with the underlying problem your project is designed to solve.

1. Craft a Crisp and Vivid Problem Statement

Define the core goal of your project - the specific outcome that would result if the focal problem were fixed or key opportunity were addressed.

Define who has the problem that is in need of a solution.

Identify the product, service, or other intervention that you think is needed.

Develop a one-sentence problem statement connecting these three elements, checking that it's meaningful to your core stakeholders. If you're stuck, try starting with this template:

  • [A particular focal group of people] need
  • [product, service or other intervention] to
  • [accomplish or attain some specific desirable outcome or state].

Start your open issues list to track assumptions, excluded areas, impinging developments, and other things that lie outside this project team's boundaries of concern but that may affect your project or its impact.

Make the problem or opportunity vivid and memorable for your team. Consider drafting a user case study, telling a story, or visually illustrating the critical situation.

2. Define Your Products and Develop a Deliverables List

Develop a comprehensive list of everything your project will deliver to help solve the problem. Not all products of your work will be tangible, like a written report or new product. Consider a process implementation or one-off event. Note relevant quality expectations.

Start the work plan by listing corresponding activities, tasks, inputs, dependencies, and work efforts that will enable the project's work products to be developed.

Anticipate your deliverables by identifying what a successful output would look like or depicting the handoff moment. What will you have accomplished?

3. Map Your Project's Impact

Use the project impact map template. On the right, list the positive outcome your problem statement seeks to enable. On the left, list your planned deliverables. To connect the two, sketch out key factors and conditions likely to link project deliverables and your ultimate goal.

As you explore these in causal linkages, capture new insights and update your work plan accordingly.