Thursday, February 18, 2010

It goes go on and on and on…

How true is the following statement for you? “We are having problems with closure of requirements, some of our projects should have never been started, project scope control is out of control and of course we are missing production dates. Everyone misses dates and it’s not something we have any direct control over anyway because ….”

I hear something like the statement above on a regular basis and it is always is followed up with some sort of validation as to why the situation has been this way for a long time. There is acknowledgement of a problem, there are unverified reasons for the situation, there is unwarranted acceptance and there is blame; action towards a solution is what’s frequently missing.

I know, I know; everything is actually going fine, or at least OK and there is ongoing work for improvements in some areas. Here’s a test – pick a problem in your new product development process that is a nasty thorn for you. Now think back a year, did the problem exist then? Do you believe that 365 days from now that same unpleasant barb will be causing you aggravation? If you answered yes or maybe to both of these you are dealing with a known problem that has a lifetime of at least two years; now tell me why that isn’t totally unacceptable?

Here’s what’s going on - the unresolved long-term problems continue disrupting projects because they are allowed to. Sure there are reasons, everyone has a reason and it will be one of money, resources or time. These are only excuses, the real reason is that an owner does not step forward and take action to make a known new product development issue go away. Issues lacking owners continue to thrive, creating frustration and impacting projects for a long time to come. I came across this quote recently that captures the ownership dilemma beautifully:

“If it's never our fault, we can't take responsibility for it. If we can't take responsibility for it, we'll always be its victim.”
-- Richard Bach

When we stop trying to ensure new product development execution inefficiency is someone else’s responsibility and own the path to a solution, we will stop being victims of what is rarely fixed and often talked about. It’s well past the time to stop talking and take action to get one of those two year old plus problems off the table; you know just the one I am talking about. Are you ready to step into the light and own the solution or will you continue to be a distraught victim? It is a choice.

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