Week 18- Preventing disaster

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I have just finished a project where the outcome was awful, the quality wasn’t right, and the benefits haven’t been realised, and the experience of getting everyone to the end has been very difficult. I don’t think anyone is going to look back and be proud of their association with this project. I think it will always be a source of regret.

You might be wondering, where am I going to find the positives in this situation?

It is a realisation that there is a matrix of the outcome of your work and the experience of your work, from bad to good. The worst situation is the one I have just endured, where the outcome is not what anyone had hoped for, so it is bringing misery and despair, and the experience of working on the initiative was so difficult it required great resilience just to keep going.

The top right quadrant is something that we all aspire to. Our work results in a positive outcome that is delivered on or under time and budget, that meets all the pre-defined quality criteria and that realises or exceeds the benefits promised in the initial business case. This is coupled with a great experience as we learn new things, work together harmoniously, support each other’s development, build new and hopefully long-lasting relationships and genuinely enjoy the work.

The positive from my recent bad experience is that I was reminded of how important it is to keep this matrix in mind. It helps me assess what I need to pay attention to and what I need to improve:

  • Do I need to be focusing on the quality of the work that we are delivering right now?
  • Am I concerned that whilst we are all busy, the early indications are that what we are creating is not quite right?
  • Can we step in to fix this now because it will be easier and cheaper than waiting until the end when everyone is blaming each other for all the things that are wrong?
  • Do I need to focus on how we are working together because it doesn’t feel like a rewarding experience?
  • Is there a lot of negativity, distrust and disklike?
  • Do we need to spend time building the relationships within the team?

Even if the outcome isn’t right, the experience can still be a great one. Or the outcome might be great, but the experience wasn’t. There is more of a chance of avoiding failure on both fronts by regularly reviewing and addressing the issues.