What is the “heart of a project” or the “heart of an issue?” Often in business I find myself referring to the heart of various ideas and I am reminded of a story.  The story goes like this:

boy-treeThere once was a man who was becoming concerned about a maple tree in his yard which was growing large and shading the neighboring crab apple tree.  The maple needed to be moved but who would do the work?  The man had a 20 year old son who he thought would be the perfect candidate for the job.  The boy needed money and the boy was strong enough to dig out the rather large root ball.  The father wanted to ensure the boy took care of the trees roots so he came up with a compensation plan for the job that included an incentive if the tree lived.  Figuring that $200 would motivate the boy, the father decides he would offer the boy the job and pay $100 for moving the tree and an additional $100 if the tree survived until winter.  Proud of his compensation package idea, the father quickly presented the job opportunity to the boy.  The son agreed to the work, went into the garage, grabbed the chainsaw, cut down the tree and drug it over to the new location.  The boy then went inside and asked the father for his $100.

Where did the father go wrong?  The dad assumed the boy would be motivated by the total amount of $200 for completing the whole project.  Little did he know that the boy would be willing to accept $100 for as little work as possible.  The dad thought he had a pretty clear statement of work and compensation package for the boy but what he missed out on was the heart of the project.  The heart of the project was to successfully transplant the tree.

In our projects at Digital Solutions we often have to step back and consider the larger picture of what we are doing.  It often isn’t enough to simply fulfill the statement of work for a project but instead to fulfill the statement of work while also being true to the overall goals or “heart” of the project.  This “heart of the project” can sometimes be difficult to convey in a project specification without stopping to ensure it is included and being conveyed properly.  The heart of a project also comes along with long-term client relationships as businesses work together over years and decades to mutual benefit.  These partnerships that get at the heart of business are what get us out of bed in the morning.  Fulfilling project specs is easy.  Fulfilling project specs and getting to the heart of a project is what builds long-term relationships.