How bringing a third-party “Overall Specialist” could help to rejuvenate your plans.
“I’ve been thinking..”
[The point at which my wife dives for cover.]
I’ve been thinking about why so many projects overrun deadlines, they exceed their budgets, many times they are different to what was originally planned and why people are sometimes unhappy with the results.
There are obviously many causes of this, but by tracking back to the start of a project’s journey, I have to ask the question: “Do you know what you want?”
In fact, I do just that.
The journey starts like this:
Client has an idea, or a problem that they need to overcome. The Client is an expert in their own process, but they haven’t solved their problem because they either don’t have the expert knowledge to overcome it, or they don’t have the time to analyse it. That idea is going to make a significant difference to their turnover; that problem has been nibbling away at the bottom line and is likely to continue to do so.
So, bring in an outside person to sort it out.
- Who, exactly, are you bringing in?
- What are you going to tell them?
- Is this going to demonstrate that you’re a failure?
Last one first – of course you’re not a failure. As a Client/Project Manager/Leader you recognise that YOU don’t have all of the answers, YOU don’t have the time and YOU don’t have the people to deal with it (otherwise you would have, right?).
Then, what are you going to tell this “outsider”? Well, bearing in mind that whoever comes in doesn’t have the intimate knowledge of the signs, symptoms or causes of whatever this problem is, they’re going to need to be briefed into what is being observed, what is happening, and crucially, what is SUPPOSED to be happening, but isn’t. This needs to be in context, so often what you see as a normal condition may, to another person, be abnormal, or just alien, so it’s important to take a big step back and try to view this as someone outside would.
Which leads to the question of who to bring in. A specialist in the particular problem that you’ve observed would probably be the ideal, as they will get to the root of the problem quickly. However,
a) Unless your problem involves machinery or equipment only, the human element means that a load of variables come into play. Of course, if it’s the same equipment and the same human, then that’s easier to resolve and could be just a training matter.
b) Specialists have a deep and detailed knowledge in a particular field, possibly at the expense of a wider knowledge. You’re also an expert in your own field, so this may be just the first of a number of attempts to resolve the issue permanently.
If you have a medical problem, your first port of call is a GP, who is practised in taking a step back, asking questions – even obvious ones – and making observations from everything, before directing you to a specialist who can help (and even managing this for you).
So, why can’t you do this in industry?
Well, you can. Often, one of your technicians or engineers is your go-to resource, but that depends on them being available, having the time, and enough breadth of experience to diagnose and deal. But an outsider is dedicated to your needs, is interested in getting the job done and brings in extra skills that you don’t have in-house. That “outsider” is an Overall Specialist.
What is an Overall Specialist?
In the same way that a GP has a broad, but moderately detailed view on medical issues that are presented to them by a walk-in patient, a process Overall Specialist also has a broad and moderately detailed view on technical, engineering and manufacturing matters. In fact, detailed enough to be able to take your concerns and ideas from unconfirmed worries to a tangible way forward.
So next time you have a ghost in your machinery, or something just ain’t right, who, you gonna call?