Do You Know What You REALLY Need?

Monday, 27 August 2012 20:05
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This week, I share some advice that is very relevant to the field of problem solving in general. Read on, dear friends...

Do You Know What You REALLY Need?

I wish to share with you a disguised example based on reality that should give everyone pause whose job it is to execute direction set by another party. This experience is far from uncommon, and is actually a fairly routine occurrence in business. Its consequences in terms of time and resource allocation and the potential for rework can be considerable. Has something like this ever happened to you?

R&D manager Joe Smith was assigned to develop a new personal care product consistent with business strategy. The Marketing manager shared his product requirements with R&D, which enabled Joe to define technical needs and requirements and to allocate support resources. 4 months into his work, Marketing contacted Joe to let him know that due to their CEO having been "monumentally inspired" by a new product seen during an international shopping trip, the product requirements had to change. In order to accommodate these changes, Joe's team would need to invest considerable additional time and effort and incremental expense. They set to work to adjust to the change in plan and resurfaced a previously shelved technical development that now was more appropriate for the revised product definition.

This story highlights that in the course of managing projects, needs can very often change, and sometimes for reasons that aren't always obvious or even understood by those who must react upon them. Further, the ripple effects of these changes on the efforts of others can be substantial, a fact not always recognized and or even appreciated by the parties who can seemingly casually trigger them.

The example provided above suggests that needs and project requirements can be subject to change, sometime without notice. It is necessary therefore, that technical organizations be sufficiently flexible about the suitability of alternate technical solutions and approaches to accommodate these changes if or when they do occur. 


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