Friday, February 13, 2009

Off-road

From what I have seen these past few weeks, we have an incredibly competent and diverse team of professionals on board at my new job. Still, sometimes things go off-road. The last couple of days I have been really busy with dragging one of these out of the dirt - a very nasty and dirty business.

It reminds me a lot of similar occasions in former jobs. The tricky thing with dragging something out of the dirt is making sure you cause as little friction as possible. Like a car that is stuck, too much spinning and too much friction cause only harm and no good. You dig yourself in deeper and deeper, until only a display of real power will be able to drag you out: a tow truck. Tow trucks however, are expensive and take time to arrive. Time and money you don’t always have.

Making a correct assessment of how deep you are stuck is therefore essential before any intervention. Unfortunately we tend to assess risks lower than they actually are, when we are in the face of an emergency or urgency: “I don’t have the time and money for a tow truck – I have to get out now!” So we set out and try to get out ourselves, with disastrous results. We’re digging ourselves in deeper, more time and more money is seeping away and by the minute it will become clearer and clearer: “We need that truck!”

The thing I’m currently working on has fallen prey to one of those infamous bad assessments. It seemed pretty straight forward, it looked like no big deal, but it is becoming apparent that the devil really is in the details. And with time pressing heavily on us, those details are costing us dearly. We simply don’t have the time to be extremely thorough on the last details. But every time we are in contact with the client it’s all about those details.

And they have every right. We made a bad assessment – now we have to deal with it. This basically means that over the weekend I’ll be sifting through the project again, again and again. Monday. Monday it will all be over – hopefully…

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