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6 potholes on the path to value

I spend a lot of time talking about all the things you should do as part of a team, part of an organization, as an executive, or as a leader and almost all deal with the idea that there’s a path to value. The idea that you’re trying to get somewhere and that you want to get there as quickly as possible with the most value possible. So today what I wanted to do was talk about 6 potholes people hit on the path to value.

  1. Over-planned an under-implemented– I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been part of an exercise where the planning has so dominated the total implementation that by the time It got around to actually doing the doing, there wasn’t enough resources left to really get it done. So much time and effort had been spent planning things, developing an incredible level of detail, or simply tracking around between different ideas that there wasn’t time left to actually do what you had set out to do.
  2. Bought but not sold– A lot of times as an organization you spend a lot of effort to make complicated decisions, weigh a bunch of different tradeoffs, and finally choose a technology or approach that a small group within the organization believes is the right approach. Oftentimes they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it and it probably is the right approach. The problem is that they don’t ever spend any time marketing that approach to the rest of the organization. So the effort fails not because it wasn’t a good idea but because they didn’t sell it.
  3. Right idea, wrong people– Oftentimes you find yourself with a group of people who have a really good idea but, especially when you’re talking transformational sorts of projects, you are lacking depth in previous experiences which can prove to a major roadblock. If you don’t have people that maybe have experience in what you’re trying to do or have a lot of insight in to it, you set yourself up to go down this path to failure because you’re having to reinvent the wheel all the time. You don’t have anyone that you can lean on, that’s been through this type of project or process and can draw on past experience to lead you toward the future. So I think it’s important to a project’s success to have the right people engaged.
  4. If some of this is a good thing then a lot of it is even better– This is a problem when you have one of these great projects going and you start to be successful. You then decide to scale it up on the basis of that success prematurely. This is where you run into problems because you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, maybe you weren’t resourced to scale it as quickly as you are, and you run into those types of problems.
  5. Forgetting or never defining what success looks like– Too many times you get engaged in a project and you’re pushing really hard and as you get closer and closer to the end of your resources, you’re not sure how well you did. A lot of times that’s because you didn’t figure out at the very beginning what success was going to look like so you knew when you had achieved all that you wanted to achieve. Defining that in advance gives you some rails to guide your journey and lets you know when you’ve arrived.
  6. Failure to capitalize on your success— This is one that people forget all the time because it’s not necessarily intuitive. When you’ve got a great project and you’ve put in a lot of hard work to achieve something, one of the things that organizations, executives, and mangers fail to do all the time is to take that success and use it to build forward into something else. You need to take the momentum that you’ve achieved and use it to go even further. It’s something that I’m a huge believer in because it’s oftentimes so hard to get things going. This could be for many reasons such as maybe you don’t have the credibility or the organization just doesn’t have a record of succeeding and executing on transformational projects. Whatever it is, once you get a success use it to build forward so that you can continue to achieve and perform.

Those are my six potholes on the path to value. I’m sure there are things out there that I’ve missed. Hopefully next year when I do this it’ll be the 12 potholes due to people having chimed in with things that absolutely have to be on here.

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