Saturday, March 6

Prove that you made a difference


In the last post on this topic, I talked about how we are looking to help the LSE SIFE Team identify whether or not they are actually making a difference. At end of the day, we need to make sure that we are actually providing information, training, documentation etc. within the trading game, so that the students are actually learning things. We cannot really subject them to an examination, but what we can do is to have them fill out a questionnaire. When we met, the team mentioned that their questionnaire wasn’t really helping. Either the students were marking all on the high side or not marking at all. So we offered the help of our communications expert to evaluate and validate their questionnaire.

We met three members of the team yesterday and had a good conversation. I was reminded of the fact that I have quite a similar conversations with every project. The basic question that we ask in project or change management is, ok, so you want to run this project, but what do you want to achieve? What do you think is “good” is? What we don’t want to do is to be Columbus, start off not knowing where we are going and on reaching not knowing where we are, on coming back not having an idea where we had been and we do this all on somebody else’s money. So, it’s important to know what we are going to measure and what we are going to deliver, otherwise how will we know that the project is successful? Show me the money. Talk is cheap, prove that you made a difference. Show that what you did actually did something.

In my experience, that is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks. Speaking with the project sponsor, it takes time to extricate what benefits are going to be seen? Are we talking about process efficiency or reduction in operational loss, or revenue benefits, or what? It’s vital to clearly identify the benefits that we will deliver. And frankly, it has to be short and sweet, not a full tome. In other words, your sponsor should be able to explain the benefits of the project in 2-3 top level sentences, in about the time it takes for the sponsor and her boss to take an elevator ride (hence elevator speech).

Same with the SIFE group, Hay, Katie and I discussed what they are trying to achieve and how they can measure it. We gave them ideas like, find out how many students want to go on to do a higher degree BEFORE they do the trading game and then ask them AFTER the game about: “How to use a control group to measure progress and performance if you don’t want to submit pre and post questionnaires to the same audience. How to have mini case studies, use cartoon characters, how to put questions like “I feel confident that I am….” “I know about xyz”, talk about 1-5 (strongly disagree to strongly agree) scaling versus a yes / no answer choice.”

We further discussed the HSBC competition, their presentation and preparation needed. There is so much to do! I look forward to meeting the full team of business advisors this Thursday and will report back then.

Late breaking news: there are definitely angels in the bank who look out for business advisors. An angel emailed me out of the blue with some brilliant suggestions and actual help which can further improve this project. More on that in the next post.

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