When something goes wrong, we always look for something (or someone) to blame, and while this may make us feel better in the moment, it is not helpful.
The first thing to remember, is things didn’t go wrong…things just didn’t go according to plan. That just means that we have an opportunity to learn and should take advantage of it.
Next thing to do is figure out why things didn’t follow our plan, and really dig down into the root cause rather than just what appears on the surface. For example, a project did not reach completion due to missing key milestones. It would be very easy to say the project manager wasn’t doing their job well, reprimand them and move on; however upon closer inspection of your metrics, you find that particular project manager is assigned to 7 different projects, each project is understaffed or has limited resources available, and the project manager is constantly putting in 100+ hour weeks. Given this new information, it is kind of a miracle that only one of the projects did not meet completion. Once we drill down to the root cause we learn that we need to increase our staff, to not only ensure completion, but to protect you staff from burn out and high turnover rates.
Finally, we need to make a plan to catch and resolve this type of error in the future. If you have a plan in place, it will stop the same issues from creeping up again and again and will give you a guideline for what to do in case the same scenarios do arise.
When things don’t work out, we evaluate why, but this is equally important when we have successes. Why did we come in under schedule, or under budget? What did we do on this project so well that we can translate to other projects? If you finish a project 10 days early, is it because you overestimated the time it would take? Was there something removed from the scope of the project? Did it have something to do with the team working on the project? Once we find the source of our successes and implement them into other projects, we can achieve more success.
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