At the weekend my daughters (4 and 3) and I played with our trunk of Lego for an hour or so.
happily followed their instructions – sometimes exacting, sometimes a little
vague – and inwardly laughed when one said to the other, “Oh, are we building a
zoo? I thought we were building a farm.”
In fairness, the horse and chickens had appeared perfectly
at home with the giraffe and elephant but, for my eldest, it just looked wrong
and needed fixing. Happily, on this
occasion at least, the girls were able to settle their differences relatively
It’s not always like that, funnily enough.
This conversation reminded me of the numerous post-project lesson
capture meetings I have run for clients and, in particular, the frequency with
which ‘clarity of scope’ comes up as being at the heart of numerous over-runs
Frequent visitors to this blog will recall an earlier examination
of differing interpretations of scope by clients and contractors here.
All too often, a client will presume that its contractor’s
understanding of what it wants is the same as its own. Just as all too often a contractor will rush
to produce a proposal without ensuring that its assumptions are valid. In both cases, time is considered a luxury
and all involved, excited and enthused, just want to get on with ‘doing
something’ and getting paid for it.
‘More haste, less speed’ is a well-worn phrase for a
reason. One project I worked on had an
initial budget of $1bn. The final spend
was over $1.7bn. Perhaps a bit more time
discussing up-front might be an idea?
lessons from past projects at the bidding and planning stages can help the
arrogant, ignorant and naïve from promising too much for too little. Bringing people in from past projects as
internal consultants, perhaps through Peer Assists, is also a good
Hopefully, my daughters will come to learn that sitting down
together and discussing what they want to do is time well spent. Hopefully, companies with big projects to run
will do so as well.