“Ideas won’t keep. Something must be done about them.” – Alfred North Whitehead, Mathematician and Philosopher
Many of you have come into this capstone course knowing what you would like to focus on for your project concept and the objectives you would like your project work to accomplish. Others may still be giving this some thought. To that end, here is some guidance to help you to start formulating an initial project concept and associated objectives. Rest assured, your concept and objects may become more refined as you move through our process.
The first step in formulating your project is to start brainstorming. As Jeff M. Miller describes in his article “7 Tips to Help You Gain a New Perspective”, brainstorming allows us the freedom to take on a new perspective and spontaneously develop a list of ideas with the intention of forming a conclusion. In this case, the conclusions would be your project concept and associated objectives.
So, here are a few questions to start brainstorming. Remember, brainstorming is a tool utilized to “get your creative juices flowing”, so don’t be afraid to let your imagination wander. Utilizing phrases such as “what if ______ were possible” and “if only I could do ______ to improve my work situation” and “I’ve always wanted to ______” are great ways to begin.
The following questions will provide some guidance to get things rolling:
- Have you dreamed of opening your own business one day? If so, you may consider developing a business plan as your capstone project. The Small Business Administration provides excellent resources to help you develop objectives such as:
- Formulating a solid marketing plan
- Forecasting costs and profit projections
- Establishing a marketing plan, etc.
- Do you have an organizational challenge within your workplace? Is employee retention an issue, for example? If so, maybe you need to look at areas for improvement to increase employee retention. George Dickson provides some good food for thought in his blog article “10 Dead Simple Ways to Improve Your Company Culture”. The objectives of this project concept might include:
- Developing consistent hiring procedures and processes
- Developing a comprehensive employee orientation and onboarding process
- Instituting employee training opportunities
- Implementing consistent review practices and procedures
- Do you have a process in your workplace that needs improvement to maximize the quality of a deliverable? For example, is your customer service all that it could be? If not, maybe you could look at establishing a formalized customer service plan. The objectives of this project work may include:
- Developing a customer service manual
- Improved levels of customer satisfaction
- Increased sales to repeat customers
- More customer referrals
- Higher profit margins
Steve Jobs provides excellent insights around continuous improvement in the following YouTube video:
Sometimes it helps to think about the end results you are hoping to achieve (the objectives) and work backwards to develop your project concept. Using the examples above, that might look something like this:
- How can we increase customer satisfaction and referrals to improve sales? Are we delivering consistent, high level customer service? What could help with that?
- Establishing a formalized customer service plan
- Developing a customer service manual
Other broad ideas would include: Have you considered establishing a non-profit charity? Developing a public media campaign? Launching a podcast? Planning and executing an educational workshop?
If you would like to have a discussion and brainstorm some avenues together, I’m happy to do this. Simply send me an email with your thoughts around potential project concepts and rough objectives and we can schedule a zoom session or a telephone conversation to help refine your focus.