Speed is good when it is accompanied by quality. Quality of thought. Quality of preparation. Quality of planning and execution.

Rush, rush, fail. Rush, rush, fail. Rush…

Speed is good. ‘Agile’ is the new theme. It is 25 years since BCG coined the term, “Time-based competition.” But it is even longer since someone said, “More haste, less speed!”

Speed is good when it is accompanied by quality. Quality of thought. Quality of preparation. Quality of planning and execution. Quality is key, as the consultant Gerry Weinberg observed, “If quality is an option then all else is possible.”

Yet, quality is too often sacrificed as projects rush forward…and fail.

Currently, an organization is planning to implement a specific system. Why? Because senior management has identified it is needed and will solve a range of problems. And it will – if it works. The software will work, but the organization already knows that it does not have the data it needs to drive the system. So, millions will be spent, the system will be installed and the results will be disappointing. Again.

This is not a factor of size or complexity but of approach. In this case, the rush to ‘deliver’ ignored the lack of data to deliver the desired result.

Another organization was an early adopter of ‘big data’ and had been sold a sophisticated data analysis module that would help manage both inventory and sales. Great; except that there was no one in the organization that knew how to analyze and interpret the data. All of the expertise had left. So the system was installed and this expensive data analysis module was unused.

These examples had the same basic failing – they started at the beginning (with “What have we got to do?”) when they should have started at the end with “What are we trying to achieve?”

When you have defined in clear, specific, measurable terms exactly what you are trying to achieve you can then work backwards to identify what needs to be in place for these ends to be achieved. This will identify the need for quality data or data analysts before you start. No quality data, no start. No data analysts and that module is valueless.

The most common dimension we see with project staff is rush ‘to do’. The rush to get going. Then the additional hassles as the lack of quality preparation come home to roost. The delivered result, if measured against the desired business outcomes, is a compromise, a failure.

Meanwhile we see this cycle repeated daily. Rush, rush, fail. Rush, rush, fail.

It’s time to step back and instead ask,  

  • Why are we doing this?
  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • What needs to be done to get us there from here?
  • What needs to exist or happen for us to be successful?
    (These are the real 'critical success factors')

And not take a step forward until you have clear, specific and measurable answers to these questions.

Pause, Analyze, Act—a much safer approach.

And the starting point should be the generation of your Value Equation.

It really is that simple.

Further Reading



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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Apr 2015) as "How The Rush 'To Do' Compromises Project Delivery Quality"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections