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Best of PMTimes: Risk and Opportunity Management

When asked how typical risk management exercises are conducted, most project managers reply that this involves conversations and documentation around risk events and their respective probabilities and impacts.

 

While this is a necessary and beneficial exercise, this standard approach and mind-set does not account for taking time to recognize and focus on maximizing opportunities, and it often leads the team and project manager in the opposite direction.

Effective risk management should not be focused solely on recognizing possible failure points, but also on learning how to best recognize and capitalize on opportunities to ensure both project and future success.

Opportunity Management is about removing barriers to success and creating a path for yourself and your teams. Make sure you create time not only to identify and deal with risk, but also to recognize and capitalize on opportunities in your projects.

Chances are this change in perspective will enable you to see multiple opportunities that may not have arisen otherwise.

Enumerated here are six opportunities that nearly every project manager, regardless of discipline, can and should capitalize upon.

 

  1. Take the opportunity to recognize and reward success.

Successful projects are always the result of successful teams. Successful teams are the result of the collaboration and efforts of motivated and talented individuals. The project manager must maximize all opportunities to recognize and reward team success.

This can be challenging in today’s marketplace given the tremendous financial emphasis on budgets and spending. In tough economic markets, don’t discount the importance of direct individual feedback.

 

  1. Take the opportunity to provide and ask for feedback.

Feedback is an incredibly powerful, yet often overlooked opportunity that can be utilized with peers, direct reports management vendors and senior management as well. Many project managers realize the importance of providing feedback to functional managers but fail to maximize opportunities that may arise from asking for feedback.

The important thing to keep in mind is that people always remember how they were treated and made to feel, long after the American Express gift checks are spent. We as project managers are in a unique position to provide both constructive criticism and praise to both team members as well as their functional management.

It is the project manager’s responsibility to stand up for team members to ensure that their best interests are represented.

 

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3. Take the opportunity to network with professional project managers in your field regarding lessons learned.

Most professional project managers aren’t shy about sharing lessons learned, opportunities they’ve maximized and those they’ve missed along the way!

Take the opportunity to share experiences as well as to learn from others. Local PMI chapters, special interest groups and LinkedIn are but a few of the many ways to accomplish this. These lessons learned could very well be the result of feedback from number two, above!

 

  1. Take the opportunity to utilize and involve senior leadership and your sponsor.

Never underestimate the value of the project sponsor when it comes to removing obstacles to get things done. People tend to listen a bit more intently when senior leadership speaks.

Allow them to be engaged and assist with removing barriers and obstacles. Project initiation is also a great time to have candid conversations with leadership about their vision for the project as well as opportunities they foresee. This also affords you the opportunity to highlight movement toward and capitalization on said opportunities in status meetings.

 

  1. Take the opportunity to recognize cultural boundaries, international holidays and cultural differences, etc.

Most teams these days are a veritable melting pot of cultures and time zones. As such, communicating and determining a mutually agreeable time for the team to meet often presents many challenges and opportunities.

The project manager should take the opportunity to build rapport with international team members and stakeholders by learning about international holidays as well as working off-hours to account for different country’s time zones.

 

  1. Encourage Opportunity Management within your teams.

This demonstrates to the team that you not only value their input but are willing to recognize and implement it toward the success of the project.

Everyone has unique perspectives and insights regarding opportunities within the project—oftentimes all you have to do is ask.

 

Capitalizing on these six opportunities will assist with building rapport within team as well as provide the project manager and team with valuable and timely information beyond conventional risk exercises.

 

Published on: 2019/01/29

How Project Managers May Help Address Construction’s $30-$40B Productivity Problem

Productivity has been in steady decline—CNBC reported a few months ago, for example, that the U.S. had experienced five consecutive quarters of year-over-year declines in worker productivity. Last year, worker productivity was falling at the fastest rate in four decades.

Productivity in construction is an even harsher reality, the industry faced with skilled labor shortages and a recent FMI Corp report that showed productivity is a $30 billion to $40 billion annual problem, affected by planning, communication, and collaboration 3 in 4 times.

 

In this article, I discuss how, in the construction industry that faces labor shortages topping half a million, the role of the project manager is ever-critical in empowering the team to work more collaboratively, heed strict quality assurance requirements, and achieve greater productivity outcomes onsite to, correspondingly, drive better customer outcomes.

 

The Role of Project Management in Construction Projects

Studies show “an extremely strong correlation between the Project Manager and the success of the construction projects” (ref 1). What’s more, project managers with high emotional intelligence have been shown to be a catalyst for empowering team cohesion and effectiveness (ref 4), particularly with the soft skills to navigate teams through change management – a key competency that successful project managers in the construction industry possess, according to a systematic industry literature review (ref. a).

The role of a construction project manager is a multifaceted one, its duties perhaps described as a myriad of spinning plates, routinely responsible for example (ref. 3) –

  • Project cost estimating
  • Project planning
  • Production planning
  • Resource management
  • Scheduling

 

Project managers in construction are able to address these myriad challenges through agile methodologies to drive greater flexibility, correspondingly higher productivity outcomes onsite, and an integrated approach is of particular use to facilitate greater cross-functional collaboration.

 

Integrated Project Management

Experts recommend companies employ an “integrated” construction project management approach (ref 2); project managers in construction have a wider scope than the traditional time-cost-quality project management triangle, needing to address, for example, critical factors like “sustainability, health and safety, ethical requirements, social responsibility and security.”

Authors view “integration” as a “keyword” of project management in construction, with the “project managers of tomorrow [requiring] new competencies and new ways of working that embrace technology and communications” (ref 2). The authors stress the importance of “Integrating the different and fragmented process in the supply chain and with the design team.”

Ways project managers can integrate project systems and workflows to drive greater transparency, real-time data sharing, and correspondingly higher productivity outcomes onsite include:

 

Materials and Inventory

Integrating project management with materials and inventory management systems ensures project teams onsite get what they need onsite when it’s needed, that materials are appropriate (i.e., not damaged), so they can perform work on schedule.

A synchronization between project and inventory management platforms not only helps declutter and decrease outdated project data as changes are made in real-time, but also helps project managers better oversee projects with relevant alerts that:

  • Better predict stocking needs and help the team assess how they might acquire safety stock to prevent stockouts
  • Provide access to pertinent job costing information, helping project managers better forecast and improve accounting across companies’ operations; they can also work with inventory managers overseeing equipment rentals to drive better profitability and ongoing maintenance.

 

When coupled with other proper inventory strategies (e.g., inventory tracking and kitting) and other IoT solutions, project managers can work in tandem with inventory managers to better account for inventory through its lifecycle.

 

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Safety

Project managers can work with safety managers to develop safety metrics (e.g., hazard identification and assessment; hazard prevention and control; program evaluation and improvement) that ensure onsite workers are managing their own risk and abiding by site rules. Safety is a team sport, hence why the team needs to keep each other safe, which will also help drive greater quality assurance targets.

What’s more, project managers can work with inventory and procurement (as discussed above) as well as construction technology teams to implement emerging technologies to support greater safety outcomes: e.g., robots to automate needlessly hazardous installations, newer-generation drills and impacts that prevent against kickback events, drones to perform overhead safety checks, etc.

 

Project Design

An integration between project management and design (e.g., architecture, CAD, and BIM) can help drive better quality assurance, ensuring not only scoped design plans are properly installed, but also that design-related problems (and ensuing rework) are mitigated.

According to Dodge Data & Analytics, 61% report BIM processes reduced project error. In the hands of a project manager, BIM data is powerful; what’s more, integrations with smart tools can help ensure project managers and the design team alike are getting application-specific reporting so they can verify not only that designs are accurate, but also that critical fasteners were installed to manufacturer specifications.

 

Sustainability

Platforms like Green Badger are purpose-built to measure, benchmark, and report on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) metrics, helping project managers report to business owners data on carbon, waste, water, and energy data, how projects are completed to company sustainability targets, etc.

 

Bottom Line

As the construction industry combats with a labor shortage that has topped half a million, it’s no surprise that productivity issues on sites nationwide cost the industry between $30 and $40 billion annually. All this to say, the job of the construction project manager is of prevailing importance, helping companies negotiate complicated projects and workflows and empowering cross-functional teams to be more productive with continually shrinking resources. An integrated construction project management approach is the way forward to driving the productivity needle back in the right direction, improving company top and bottom lines, and improving the industry outlook as it looks to build the green infrastructure projects necessary for our planet’s continued existence.

 

References

  1. Abdulsamad Ali, M. and Chileshe, N. (2009). The influence of the project manager on the success of the construction project [Paper presentation]. 6th International Conference on Construction Project Management (ICCPM) / 3rd International Conference on Construction Engineering and Management (ICCEM) Global Convergence in Construction, Jeju, Korea. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265689336_The_influence_of_the_project_manager_on_the_success_of_the_construction_project
  2. Fewings, P. and Henjewele, C. (2019). Construction Project Management: An Integrated Approach. (3rd Edition). Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.
  3. Sears, S., Sears, G., and Clough, R. (2008). Construction Project Management: A Practical Guide to Field Construction. (5th Edition). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  4. Zhang, Q. and Hao, S. (2022, 04). Construction project manager’s emotional intelligence and team effectiveness: The mediating role of team cohesion and the moderating effect of time. Frontiers in Psychology 13 https://doi.org/10.3389%2Ffpsyg.2022.845791
    1. Oliveros, J. and Vaz-Serra, P. (2018). Construction Project manager skills: A systematic literature review. In P. Rajagopalan and M.M Andamon (Eds.), Engaging Architectural Science: Meeting the Challenges of Higher Density: 52nd International Conference of the Architectural Science Association (pp.185–192). The Architectural Science Association and RMIT University, Australia.

6 Effective Ways to Mitigate Resource Risks in Project Management

Do you face challenges securing specialized skills for your projects in advance?

Is your organization experiencing frequent unplanned employee attrition?

Are you finding it hard to identify suitable candidates for critical positions?

If your answer is “yes” to the above questions, it’s high time to develop strategies to mitigate these resource-related risks. If not managed well, these resource risks can lead to project delays, compromised deliverable quality, budget overruns, reduced profitability, etc.

Thus, organizations should anticipate and address them to ensure successful project completion and delivery.

This article elucidates several techniques to prevent resource-related risks and how SAVIOM can help.

 

But first, let’s understand:

  1. Resource-related risks: definition & types

Resource risks are unexpected events that have the potential to adversely affect the project and the business in case of their occurrence. If not managed properly, it will affect the project scope, timeline, and budget, resulting in sudden halts or failure.

Some of them are:

  • Lack of skilled resources

In multifaceted projects, skilled resources are required to fulfill the project demand. However, these resources might sometimes be unavailable due to inaccurate forecasting of project requirements, resulting in last-minute firefighting.

  • Employee burnout

When managers lack visibility into resource schedules and availability, it can cause double bookings and overallocation. This results in stress, burnout, disengagement, and eventually unplanned attrition.

  • Absence of succession planning

When critical resources leave the organization, replacing them becomes difficult. The absence of a backup plan can widen the demand gap and suddenly stall the projects. Further, the unavailability of resources may overburden the existing employees with additional work, impacting the project’s progress.

  • Increase in bench size

Frequently, during projects, when substantial tasks are accomplished, there is a sudden ramp-down of resources, increasing the bench size. Furthermore, last-minute project cancellations due to budget constraints can increase the bench size, resulting in talent and financial loss.

Given the various resource-related risks, the following section elucidates the ways to combat them.

 

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  1. 6 Ways to Mitigate Resource-Related Risks in Project Management

Managers must be prepared with a few proven strategies to reduce resource-related risks, as follows.

2.1. Forsee project demand to identify resource shortage/ excess

When a pipeline project reaches a certain probability of approval, the project manager must estimate the resource requirements and raise the request accordingly. The resource manager can then evaluate the demand and examine the internal pool for availability to identify and mitigate any resource shortfall/excess.

For instance, they can implement upskilling, training, hiring, out-rotation/ backfill strategy, etc., to prevent resource shortage. Conversely, to avoid resource excess, they can bring forward the project timelines or sell the extra capacity. This will reduce unnecessary hiring/firing cycles and ensure the project’s timely initiation.

2.2. Hire the right mix of resources to prevent project delays

Based on the project’s requirements, managers should create a judicious mix of employees for successful project delivery. For instance, an accounting firm requires a data analyst to prepare a financial report. Managers should first leverage internal channels to identify and deploy the employee with analytics skills.

If this skill is unavailable, they can hire contingent employees if the requirement is one-off or short-term. However, they can hire permanent analysts if the demand is recurring or long-term. Thus, maintaining the right resource mix helps organizations fulfill project demand effectively, control overhead costs, and avoid delays.

2.3. Facilitate competent resource allocation to enhance productivity

Allocating less experienced employees to critical projects can lead to stress and burnout. Contrarily, assigning highly skilled resources to low-priority projects can cause disengagement and lower productivity. Therefore, managers should have clear visibility into resource attributes like skills, interests, experience, qualifications, etc., and allocate the best-fit employees to projects.

Deploying the right workforce to suitable projects will help managers maximize employees’ productivity. Further, it will ensure that projects are completed within the estimated timeline, enhancing the firm’s profitability and brand reputation.

2.4. Optimize resource utilization to eliminate employee burnout

Uneven workload distribution can cause resource under/overutilization, leading to low morale, disengagement, stress, burnout, etc. Therefore, managers must assess the availability and capacity of the employees before assigning them to tasks/ projects. Further, managers can track their utilization levels regularly to identify under/overloaded employees.

Accordingly, they can implement optimization techniques like resource leveling/ smoothing to optimize resource schedules. Further, managers can mobilize employees from non-billable to billable tasks periodically to maintain a healthy resource index.

2.5. Facilitate effective bench management & boost billability

An increased bench size can negatively impact the organization’s financial health and lead to revenue loss. Therefore, it is necessary to implement measures to reduce bench size and improve resource billability. For this, managers should foresee the resources being rolled off from projects and find suitable work to redeploy them before they hit the bench.

This ensures continuous billability of the resources and enhances revenue. Further, on-the-job training/shadowing opportunities can be implemented for benched employees with partial skill matches. It will enable them to become versatile and deployable across multifaceted projects, reducing their idle time and increasing productivity.

2.6. Create a backup strategy for succession planning

During the project execution phase, unexpected situations like a critical resource suddenly going on leave or quitting can affect the project delivery. For example, a product development project has reached the validation phase, and the lead analyst unexpectedly takes a long leave. This can potentially lead to a delay or standstill.

To mitigate these unplanned absenteeism or attrition risks, managers must identify potential talent for critical roles. They can then create a succession plan that provides appropriate training/upskilling measures to prepare the employees for key positions. It helps reduce the over-dependence on limited critical resources and boosts the organization’s ability to take up more multifaceted projects, enhancing revenue.

Now that effective ways to mitigate resource-related risks are clear, let’s understand how resource management software can help.

 

  1. How can advanced resource management software help?

Organizations must leverage advanced ERM tools like SAVIOM to manage and reduce resource-related risks effectively.

Here’s how:

  • The tool’s 360-degree visibility of resource attributes like skills, competencies, availability, etc., enables managers to allocate competent employees to projects.
  • The skills matrix allows firms to facilitate training and formulate a backup strategy for critical positions.
  • Forecasting and capacity planning help managers predict the pipeline project demand, identify resourcing gaps, and take remedial measures to bridge them.
  • The utilization reports and color-coded heatmaps enable managers to identify the over/underutilization of resources and take remedial measures to prevent burnout.
  • BI offers people-on-the-bench, and project vacancy reports to help organizations assign benched resources to billable/strategic projects.
  • The simulation technique allows managers to create and compare various scenarios in a resource-constraint environment and determine the best-fit plan.

 

  1. Final thoughts

Companies must manage their resources and effectively alleviate risks to keep projects on track. Implementing the techniques discussed in this article and futuristic resource management software will help organizations mitigate workforce risk, boost profitability, and successfully deliver projects.

Securing the Road Ahead: The Transformative Impact of Cybersecurity and Software Updates on the Product Lifecycle in the Automotive Industry

Abstract

A final project end with the “start of production”? No more today.

In the automotive industry, Cybersecurity and Software Updates have become critical factors that impact the entire product lifecycle. Cybersecurity and Software Updates have become a serious concern in the automotive industry with the increasing use of technology and networks in modern vehicles, as they open up new attack paths for hackers to negatively influence a vehicle’s functionality. So, how do we protect vehicle occupants from such attacks? The UN Regulations UN ECE R155 and R156 request the automotive industry to establish a Cybersecurity and Software Update Management System to enable protection throughout the whole product lifecycle against attacks from outside and avoid potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the system.

This calls for thinking further into the product lifecycle, as securing the vehicle must address not only the development phase, but also the production and on-road phases.

In this article, I describe how this further thinking can be established in an automotive industry organization.

 

The vital importance of Cybersecurity and Software Updates

Cybersecurity and Software Updates are of the highest importance in the automotive industry due to the increasing integration of advanced technologies and connectivity in modern vehicles. As cars become more connected and autonomous, they are exposed to a wide range of cyber threats, making cybersecurity a critical aspect of the whole product lifecycle.

Connected vehicles rely on a complex network of electronic control units that communicate with each other to perform various functions. If hackers gain unauthorized access to these systems, they could potentially manipulate or disable them, leading to life-threatening situations for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

 

To preserve safety, security, and trust throughout the whole lifetime of the vehicles, the UN ECE Regulations require that measures are implemented across four disciplines by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs):

  • Managing vehicle cyber risks.​
  • Securing vehicles by design to mitigate risks along the value chain.
  • Detecting and responding to security incidents across the vehicle fleet.
  • Providing safe and secure Software Updates and ensuring vehicle safety is not compromised, introducing a legal basis for so-called over-the-air updates to onboard vehicle software.​

The regulations apply to passenger cars, vans, trucks, and buses. They entered into force on 22nd January 2021.​ In the European Union, the new regulation on Cybersecurity and Software Updates will be mandatory for all new vehicle types from July 2022 and will become mandatory for all new vehicles produced from July 2024. ​I assume no one would drive a car if they would not trust its functionalities. To ensure Cybersecurity along the supply chain, various standards and norms are vital for the suppliers, too.

 

Securing the journey: How do Cybersecurity and Software Updates impact every product lifecycle stage?

Cybersecurity and Software Updates are an essential consideration during the entire product lifecycle, from conception to disposal:

Cybersecurity and Software Update management

Is the product Cybersecurity relevant? Every project must consider this as the initial question. Effective Cybersecurity project management requires a deep understanding of cybersecurity principles and practices. By effectively managing Cybersecurity projects, organizations can enhance their security posture and mitigate cybersecurity risks. Software Updates already require thinking beyond the production phase at the very beginning. How can I secure Software Updates in the field? And most important: keep your suppliers in the loop. One small leak at the very end of the supply chain may affect the whole product.

 

Concept phase

The key changes of the concept phase are to identify and assess potential Cybersecurity risks and threats related to the item. This involves analyzing the item’s assets. Clear and measurable Cybersecurity Goals must be defined to guide the implementation of Cybersecurity measures.

 

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Development phase

In the design phase, it is essential to incorporate Cybersecurity measures and Software Updates procedures into the product’s architecture, features, and functionality. Identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities throughout the development is necessary, too, to stay up to date regarding any threats to develop countermeasures to address them.

Developers must follow secure coding practices and regularly test the product for vulnerabilities. Regular screening for Cybersecurity Events that may be exploited as a weakness, vulnerability, or incident in the item is key for secure development. Those vulnerabilities are to be managed to reduce the risks of exploitation. Additionally, procedures for Software Updates campaigns and packages are already to be defined during the development, which then shall be rolled out in the field.

Before release, the product should undergo thorough testing to ensure that it meets security requirements and standards. This includes functional and security testing, including vulnerability and penetration testing. A validation shall determine if the Cybersecurity goals are achieved.

 

Production phase

The production of the item must be configured securely. This includes implementing secure access controls, applying security patches, and configuring firewalls and other security measures during production.

 

Operation and maintenance phase

Throughout the product’s lifecycle, monitoring and maintaining its security posture is essential. This includes regularly updating and patching the product, monitoring for Cybersecurity incidents and vulnerabilities, and responding to incidents promptly.

 

Decommissioning phase

Finally, when the product is no longer in use, it should be decommissioned of securely. Wiping data and securely destroying hardware to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information is key.

 

By incorporating Cybersecurity and Software Update mechanisms into each stage of the product lifecycle, organizations and their suppliers can mitigate the risk of Cybersecurity incidents and protect their customers’ sensitive information through secure Software Updates.

 

Who supports the setup of a Cybersecurity Management System and Software Update Management System?

Besides the UNECE Regulations for the OEMs, there are several norms, standards, and frameworks that support the setup of a Cybersecurity and Software Update Management System at the supplier’s site. As we know: we need to ensure Cybersecurity and Software Updates along the whole supply chain, these norms provide guidelines and best practices to help organizations establish effective cybersecurity measures. The two most prominent ones for Cybersecurity and Software Updates are the

  • ISO/SAE 21434 „Road vehicles – Cybersecurity engineering“.
  • ISO 24089 “Road vehicles — Software update engineering”.

Both norms describe the Cybersecurity and Software Update engineering processes in the automotive industry to secure the systematic development of safe vehicles – only a secure vehicle can be safe. Therefore, the norms also require security throughout the entire vehicle lifecycle. Without Cybersecurity and the associated requirements for Software Updates, there will be no sufficient Functional Safety – there is no Safety without over-the-air updates.

Securing the foundation: Transform your organization to establish a sustainable Cybersecurity Management System and Software Update Management System

Why are Cybersecurity and Software Updates so important? The answer to this question must be anchored in the mind of every colleague. Implementing a Cybersecurity and Software Update Management System requires not only the organization to define standards, rules, and processes that shall be used during the projects. It also requires the awareness of the whole staff. When you perform an organizational transformation there must always be a clear reason for the change. Get your team together, get the commitment, capture, and communicate the reasons for the change and create common sense.

Establish visionary leadership to transmit awareness to all employees and create a willingness to contribute. Create the desire and opportunities for contribution to engage the employees. Enable the staff to fulfill their roles. And anchor the new way of working and enforce the growth mindset – thrive on challenges, cultivate your qualities, and grow through application and experience.

‘Delay Thinking’ Is a Project Success Factor

Often, it is better to spend more time than it is to speed to meet a deadline. Fast is good but not always. When rushing to get something done the probability of causing damage is high.

 

Delay Thinking

Delay thinking recognizes that there is a delay or lag between an action and its effect. Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline says that “Delays can make you badly overshoot your mark, or they can have a positive effect if you recognize them and work with them.”

Figure 1 below is a diagram that explains the delay phenomena, he gives the example of the delay between the time you adjust the water temperature in the shower and the time the water reaches the desired temperature. If you understand the delay, you will make sure you don’t get doused in cold water or make the mistake of further turning up the hot.

Figure 1: Delayed Results[1]

What Does This Have to Do with Projects?

In both projects and operations, we make and act upon decisions. We set expectations among stakeholders about outcomes. We are expected to fix problems and do it fast.

Faced with problems we may seek quick fixes by applying solutions that worked in the past or in other organizations. We can be pressured into rushing ahead without doing the due diligence of assessing causes, multiple scenarios, and the impact of differences between the current situation and the ones in which a solution worked in the past.

In time bound projects, there is a tendency to overlook likely delays. For example, underestimating the time it takes to perform predecessor tasks when scheduling resources. The result is the cost of resources sitting idle while waiting for the results they need to proceed.

When we take delays into consideration expectations are realistic and problem resolutions end up making things better rather than worse.

 

Learning Curves and Change Management

For example, when a large organization implemented a system to reduce the effort of field managers by applying AI to automate their ordering process, they failed to recognize the delay caused by a combination of learning curves, manager resistance to a perceived loss of authority and autonomy, and the need to fine-tune the algorithm used to make ordering decisions. The result was avoidable chaos, supply chain disruption, and degraded performance. The new system was rejected.

The outcome would have been a far happier one had the project plan included a robust training process, “marketing,” and a calibration period with an incremental system rollout rather than a “big bang” implementation. All of these are “delays” that on the surface cause the project to run longer. Though more often than not, when looking below the surface these so-called delays save time, effort, money and reduce unnecessary stress.

 

Causes

What might cause failure to include delays in plans?

Everything has a cause and when we discover causes, we can better avoid repeating failures and making poor choices.

One predominant cause of this failure to consider delays is rushing to get a project completed in a certain time frame. The pressure to get your project done by a fixed date may be driven by many things – the whim of a senior stakeholder, funding availability, the need for resources on other planned projects, legal restrictions, seasonal weather conditions, etc.

 

When a “get it done by” mandate is in play, pressure, and the anxiety it brings leads decision makers to cut corners, perhaps forgetting that spending more time planning can result in exponentially less time during the rest of the project. Pressure and anxiety also lead to applying quick fixes which overlook long term consequences.

Expediency bias operates even when there is no major pressure to hit a deadline. It is the tendency to prefer quick action over taking the time to make sure there is clarity and understanding about short and longer-term results.

During planning, rushing and expediency bias leads to only looking at one scenario instead of a few. Assessing multiple scenarios opens the decision to useful analysis. But this takes time. When rushing, talk about lags or delays is impatiently squelched. The risk of making a poor decision based on limited information is high.

 

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Quick Fixes – Short Term thinking

Another dimension of delay thinking is the recognition that when resolving a problem, while short-term fixes might remove symptoms there is a delay before the nature of longer-term consequences are experienced.

We are often blind to the long-term effects of short-term decisions and actions. When there is a lag between our action and its effect, we are easily driven by the satisfaction of short-term pleasure and immediate gratification.

Take the decision between eating a bowl of ice cream and a salad. If you are like me, the ice cream is far more pleasing than the salad. And, at the end of the day, you’d look and feel the same regardless of your choice. So why not go for the ice cream.

 

But factor in delay thinking and you get to see that if you repeatedly opt for the ice cream over the salad the delayed longer-term effects start to show – weight gain, digestive issues, increased blood sugar levels, etc.

Looking at the short and long-term effects makes your decision making more effective. You know what you are gaining and giving up when you make your choice. You can opt for ice cream sometimes, but you are more likely to moderate, assuming your goal is good health. You can remove symptoms with a quick fix, but you had better consider the longer term impact and plan for it.

 

Awareness

Awareness is the key.

 

Being aware that delays are normal parts of experience makes it likely that we will consider them when making decisions and planning projects. Knowledge of the specific delays in your project comes from analysis and experience, your own and your institution’s.

Be aware of rushing and expediency bias and the power of spending more time in planning to playout various scenarios, consider delays and delayed effects, and cause removal vs. symptom removal options and their effects.

Think of what happens when you drop a stone into a pond of still water. Be aware that every action you take has a ripple effect and that the ripples appear over time, radiating in all directions.

 

[1] Senge, Peter, The Fifth Discipline, Doubleday, NY, 1990 p. 90