Learning To Improve

The Federal Government has released some interesting analysis regarding the status of major Defence projects.

At least 28 projects are running a cumulative 97 years behind schedule with 18 of those running over budget.  The variations from what was originally costed is in the billions.  Of course, the last two years have been a little bit out of the ordinary with shutdowns, isolations, and breakdowns in the supply chain.  One can surmise these issues may have had an effect on these projects getting so far behind.

In any other context, the question would need to be asked as to how it got to this state.

I come from a background where we would consistently review projects of any kind, both while they were happening and when they were finished.  If we had introduced some sort of change, we trialled the change, consulted with those affected, understood what went well and what didn’t before embedding the change.  Sometimes we would need to do that review a number of times before final implementation.  With any project, say it was a shutdown or introduction of a new piece of equipment, there were regular project meetings to understand the status of the project, where we may be falling behind and where we could pick time up.  We would conduct a review at the end of the project to find the learnings for the next time we did something similar to ensure we did it better than this time and the time before that.  This was never about blame but rather about continuous improvement.

I can honestly say, over the last 10 years, I have consistently had discussions with many people who do not reflect on a project or even a simple procedure to find the learnings for improvement.  These people come from businesses of all sizes yet it concerns me the most that the larger organisations don’t do it.  It appears most organisations are quickly moving on to the next project or making the time to do a review of anything is just not important.

As social beings we want to know we are doing well.  We also want to enjoy what we do and that means, if we have a process or system which does not support us in what we do, helping us to achieve, we won’t be happy.  This will ultimately impact on the performance of the organisation.

There is nothing to fear from looking at how well a project was delivered.  If anything, there is everything to gain.  We must continuously improve to deliver what we promise.

Are you reviewing the delivery of your projects, or the systems and processes you have in place?  If not, how do you know what is working for you and what isn’t?  What impact is that having on your customers, your Team, and your business?

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