Appearance is everything: Why your project’s image matters

Why are some projects embraced and supported while others are ignored or neglected?

The answer could be linked to the project’s reputation. Though negativity may seem intangible, it’s surprising how easily one stakeholder’s opinion can trigger very tangible consequences. Perception can easily become a reality, and a project perceived in a negative light may be subject to some extremely real and unexpected repercussions: from rejected budget requests at a senior level to an irreversible lack of stakeholder engagement at the grassroots. So what can you do to foster a positive project image that people want to champion and be part of?

Here are Nine Feet Tall’s top tips to ensure that your project’s reputation helps, rather than hinders your progress.

A compelling vision

First impressions are extremely difficult to erase, so make sure you start on the front foot with a compelling vision for your project. What is the reason for the project, what does it aim to achieve, and what benefits will it bring? The answers to these questions need to be simple, clear, convincing and relevant to each of your stakeholder groups for universal acceptance.

Strategic alignment

Clearly demonstrate how the project helps achieve the overall business strategy. Organisations, teams and people give greater support to those initiatives that matter. Don’t expect support if it is not worthwhile.

Project champions

Senior leadership advocacy will emphasise the importance of a project and will help create a shared vision, passion and commitment to make it happen.

Don’t forget the compelling vision

Once the project is in flight, the project team’s focus is often on the work to be done and communications tend to follow this narrow view. Ensure you maintain a steady stream of positive communications to key stakeholders and continue to sell the vision, goals and benefits.

Build a brand

A project name, logo and brand can help set your project apart. Done well, it will reemphasise the vision and create a positive image, promoting engagement with stakeholders. Consistent, regular, positive and branded communications will help the project be successful and should help overcome negative perceptions.

What’s in it for me?

Once vision, leadership and branding are in place, the next step is to tailor information to the various stakeholder groups. People tend to resist change if they do not know how it will affect them and their teams. Create a messaging framework that clearly explains the impact, changes and benefits to provide clarity on what their roles will look like once the project has been successfully delivered.

For more information about project delivery, please contact Esther McMorris estherm@ninefeet.com.

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