- Talking Tough to Customers
Talking Tough to Customers
Is the customer always right? Not in the view of Shane Anastasi. In the latest Kimble-sponsored PS insights podcast, the consulting services thought leader and entrepreneur argues that service professionals are often too eager to keep customers happy. He argues instead they should stand ready to “be the expert” in their engagements, ready to point out problems in customers’ plans and tell them that “they can’t get everything they want”.
Shane gives the analogy that a professional services engagement is like setting off on a boat journey – the consultant should be steering the boat. Some businesses, he says, allow the customer to lead the project into disaster in an attempt to make them happy – he recommends instead that consultants must use their expertise to lead customers to the best possible outcome even if that means having to reset expectations.
Shane Anastasi – Crisis in professional services
Doug D’Argenio: Welcome to the PS Insights podcast series sponsored by Kimble Applications. Professional services organization’s strive for efficiency, success, and growth. This series is intended to provide key insights on how to achieve this from industry leaders.
Steve Brooks: Hello. My name is Steve Brooks and today I’m talking to Shane Anastasi about the unspoken crisis in professional services. Shane has 20 years experience in the delivery of enterprise professional services. He has worked for several major corporations, including IBM, Singtel and Salesforce. He has also successfully turned round professional services organizations within mid-size and early stage software companies, including Vignette Corp, purchased by OpenText, and BigMachines, purchased by Oracle.
He is the author of the Seven Principles for Professional Services and applied his theories at CirrusOne, a CPQ implementation firm he founded and led as CEO before its sale to Simplus early this year. He is now the founder and owner of PS Principles, which specializes in transforming the way professional services teams see their customer facing role. Shane, hi.
Shane Anastasi: Hey. How are you, Steve?
Steve Brooks: Crisis, what crisis, Shane?
Shane Anastasi: It’s an alarming word. But the idea of a crisis here is that if we stand back and look at the 80 years that companies have been providing IT-related projects to customers, and I use maybe the starting of IBM delivering these kind of services almost 80 years ago. If you look at the rate of project success that we tend to have in the industry at this point in time, you’ve got to be alarmed at how bad we are at implementing projects.
At best, we’re as an industry, at a 70 to 75% success rate. Now, if this was the medical profession, a 75% success rate on an operation would be considered not viable for public consumption. Yet, we, as professional services providers, go out there and deliver our projects with a rate of success that I’m not sure we’re proud of.
Steve Brooks: Doesn’t project management methodologies fix that?
Shane Anastasi: That’s what they would like us to believe. There’s a spot for them. There’s a need for project methodology, but it’s only a fix for a part of the problem. That’s something that we, as an industry, have to start looking at to work out what is it that’s causing these failure rates? What can we do about it?
Steve Brooks: What do we do instead? What is the solution?
Shane Anastasi: I wish I had one solution. One big part of it, something that I’ve learned can be addressed, is, first of all, looking at our role within the project delivery space. What is our role in front of the customer? And what is it that we should be doing to try and ensure a greater return on investment for the customer but, ultimately, project success? And one thing that I’ve come up with is that we listen to the customer too much.
We let the customer tell us what they want and instead of using our expertise to say, “That’s a very dangerous thing to do,” we blindly agree and walk into the inevitable failures or project difficulties that we know, if we stop and think, we shouldn’t do. But we tend to have something, that I call, project amnesia which is that we forget that doing these things will ultimately lead to a project suffering some kind of a difficulty. And we just agree to do them. I use the term a lot that what I’m trying to do is to transform firefighters into project Sherpas.
I’m trying to get people who react to a circumstance to stop reacting and to start thinking proactively about how they’re leading that process. To me, at the heart of this problem is that shift that we need to make. We grow up in a society that tells us that the customer is always right. And I think to each consultant, there is a part of us that actually believes that.
There is a part that when the customer jumps up and down and says, “I want to do this silly thing with the product that you’re trying to implement, that you’re an expert at, and I want you to make it do something that it’s never, ever done before,” there is a part of us that just says, “If that’s what you want, I’ll give it a try. It’s an interesting challenge, but let me have at it.” Yet, we know that what’s really going to happen is that it’s going to cause some kind of an issue down the road. What I’ve been focused on, with CirrusOne and with PS Principles, is how do we change that behavior?
I believe that at its core, we fundamentally misunderstand what our role is in front of the customer and feel maybe not trained enough to do it the way that we should do it. Maybe we feel as if the customer should sometimes get that consequence of their decisions. It’s kind of like, “You asked for it.” I’m trying to find out what that is. I can’t say that I know exactly, but we’re trying to combat it.
Steve Brooks: Is it just a project delivery problem though?
Shane Anastasi: No, it’s far deeper than that. You can have a great project delivery team and still the customer can be completely misaligned in what it is that they want to do internally. You can be totally misguided in what you’re trying to achieve as a services executive and provide bad guidance for the people out there executing on projects. It’s a very multifaceted problem.
I think back to the original question was like, “What’s at the heart of it?” I think that’s what’s at the heart of it is that we don’t truly understand our role in project delivery. We give the customer too equal a footing when it comes to making important decisions about a project’s direction.
Steve Brooks: Projects start at sales though, don’t they?
Shane Anastasi: That’s right. They do, and they have to be sold. You would think that if you walked in and just told a customer, “You don’t have any say,” well obviously they’re not going to buy into it. What you have to do is find a way to convey the relationship that you want to set up as a part of the project, so that the customer sees the benefit in it. And we did that fairly successfully at CirrusOne. We would explain to customers that our role was to lead. There’s a couple of analogies that you can use to really get buy-in.
One that we used right at the beginning of CirrusOne, it was the first different kind of marketing slide that we were going to use as a company to find a way to kickstart the growth of this organization, and it was a boat. It was a picture of a boat on a shore. And basically, all the slide says was, “For your project, who do you want in the boat with you?” We were trying to convey the message that every project was a journey.
Every project was you and the customer jumping into a boat and setting off. Depending on who was in the boat would determine whether or not you eventually made a successful landing or not. And we thought that that was a very clear way of saying to the customer, “Let us drive the boat. Let us be the ones that steer and give directions, cause this is what we do for a living. But we need you in there with us, and we need you to play your part.”
I don’t know if that worked exactly, but that was the subtle way of giving that message without coming across, “Hey. Shut up, don’t say anything. That’s not the way that we want the project to go.” It’s also pushing that idea of what I’m saying too far. We’re not trying to revolutionize what we’re doing. I’m trying to just maybe evolve it to maybe something where It’s clear with the customer that our job is to lead them to a successful outcome. And that’s what we should be accountable for. And they should hold us accountable for that.
Steve Brooks: The salesman gets the customer onto the boat. Does he just wave it goodbye at that point? Or does he become involved in the journey as well?
Shane Anastasi: I would love the idea that the sales guy would actually be in the boat with us. But the reality is that all sales guys, once they close the deal, have to keep selling more deals. What we want to do, as professional services organizations, is to instead of fighting that, and this is something that I felt we spend a lot of time doing currently, is blaming the sales guys for the inaccuracies in the project or the SoW. One of the things that we teach at PS Principles is that every SoW has inaccuracies. There is no perfect SoW.
What we have to get comfortable with is the sales guy waving us goodbye from the shore. What we have to do though is say to the sales guy, “Before you push us off in the boat is to give me a complete and honest debriefing of what it is that we sold. How misaligned is this? What kind of weather am I going to meet out there? It’s okay if you completely had to work around a particular issue to get the deal closed. Because we’d rather have the deal than not have the deal.”
And my job, as professional services executive, but also as a consultant, is to learn how to handle these misalignments, to learn how to get the customer on side with the fact that maybe the software can’t do something that they believe that it can do. I’ve typically found that sales guys don’t lie during sales cycles, but they know how to not address certain things that might kill the deal. And we want them to do that.
The change here is being comfortable with the sales guy waving goodbye from the shore rather than feeling like you’ve just been sent into Hell. That’s the variation that we’re trying to get in how we go about delivering our services.
Steve Brooks: You’ve got the people on the boat now, how do you stop the customers jumping off when they want to?
Shane Anastasi: It is a great analogy because it’s self-preservation. Nobody wants to be sitting in the ocean by themselves because they’ll die. We talk about in the PS Principles training, a way of recognizing and using the fact that the customer doesn’t want to fail. Nobody wants their project to fail. And it’s the same thing.
While you’re on this journey, bailing on the project really is not an option. It’s not an option for us, as a service provider. It’s not an option for the customer. That emphasizes what you want to talk about in the sales cycle with your customers, which is: once we get into this boat, that’s it.
We don’t have another party that’s going to come along and rescue us. If they do, well then, we’re all going to suffer some element of shame for it. So, we have to make this journey work. That fear of failure is something that will strive or push all project teams to compromise. It will push them to find answers where maybe there weren’t answers, and to truly address some of those misalignments that were baked into the project from the beginning.
Steve Brooks: If you’ve got all the right people on the boat, how do you make them work as a team though? How do you create the culture that means the boat does reach its destination?
Shane Anastasi: It’s a really, really good question because that, ultimately, is what drives project success. There’s a couple of things. The first is getting the team to work as a project team. One of the things that I’ve learned is that a better use of the SoW rather than writing into these documents complicated requirements about things that I will do as the service provider, not really knowing what the customer truly wants, the level of detail that we tend to go to, that tends to get us in trouble.
A better use of that document is to describe the responsibilities that each person in the boat will have during the journey. What that does is it makes it clear to everybody about how important they are within the total journey to make sure that we get there successfully. And what I mean by that is making sure that customers are clear about the sign-off process for documentation, that if they don’t sign off documents at a certain date, that has a natural impact to the cost of the project and the project timeline.
Getting the customer to recognize that sometimes the enemy of perfect is being done and moving forward, and being able to find a way to not hold projects up. Another thing to help customers recognize is that there is no concept of borrowing money from future budget phases. If we have exhausted our budget by the time we get to the end of design and there is still more work to be done, we can’t borrow that money from the build cycle. Budgets per phase have to be adhered to, otherwise there is a penalty to pay.
Describing these things as a part of the initial SoW are far more valuable with getting everybody working together than simply committing to do things that we don’t know about yet. And there’s a balance, of course. You can’t remove detail from the SoW to the point the customer says, “Well what am I buying?” but we don’t need to go into as much detail as we tend to with these projects. Cause I believe it paints us into a corner eventually.
Steve Brooks: Things can go wrong. If you have a key customer or person, who falls sick. You do have these problems on projects.
Shane Anastasi: The next part, which is so how do we notice if we’re off course and what do we do, it’s very important. What we tend to forget about is that the services executives, the stakeholders on our side for the project, they should be in a helicopter flying above the boat checking that the boat is on course.
And in that helicopter should be the customer’s project stakeholders who constantly are coming in and saying, “Does this project look like it’s heading in the right direction?” That’s the coverage that we’re looking for on projects that we sometimes misunderstand as the PMO. We think that the PMO sometimes, by calling a project manager in for 15 minutes or an hour, is going to somehow be able to give us enough information to see whether or not a project is off the rails or off course.
The reality is, all we truly need is a project manager that knows how to navigate and a project stakeholder, who can step back and look at the journey as a whole to see whether or not there needs to be a corrective action. We always should be thinking about projects proactively, as in do I need to take a corrective action in order to continue to guide this project to the right place? Rather than consistently trying to just measure the temperature of a project.
Steve Brooks: Isn’t that just a steering committee that oversees the project properly though?
Shane Anastasi: It is, but it comes down to how that steering committee sees its role and how that steering committee is ran. The big thing that we find with steering committees is do the project stakeholders actually attend them? And what is discussed at that steering committee meeting about the project’s direction? Do we spend too much time talking about the risks or the issues or the deliverables or the plans and not enough time talking about how the team’s working together? Are the teams rowing in unison in this boat? Are they heading in the right direction? What kind of weather do we foresee the boat having to go through in the future?
If you spend more time talking about those things, you do what you’re meant to do, as a project stakeholder, which is to help clear the way for the project or to help prepare the project to complete its journey. Project stakeholders who get too far into the detail, they’re just doing what the project team should be doing and not doing their job, which is to be out of the day-to-day operations of the project. It comes down to running those meetings effectively but, yes, you’re right. That’s what that meeting is meant for. I tend to feel like it gets sucked into the firefight sometimes.
Steve Brooks: We’ve spoken about processes which, in theory, exist already. Why are companies getting it wrong so frequently? And how can they fix it?
Shane Anastasi: Yeah, that’s the real crux of the question. Because a lot of what we’re talking about here, Steve, is behavioral responses to certain circumstances that, as professionals, we should be recognizing as dangerous and taking a difficult action to resolve. That’s where I think we have the idea of consulting a little misaligned. We don’t train our consultants to think of themselves as the last point of call to stop a project from going off the rails. They think of themselves as servants to the paying customer.
What they tend to do is they tend to let the customer lead them off course, and then complain later that the customer led them off course. I don’t blame the consultants for that, because I feel like that’s kind of how we run the companies sometimes. That’s actually how we do it. I think what we have to do is to find a way to start teaching behavioral responses to certain circumstances that we know to be dangerous. A great example is to ask yourself every day, “Am I leading the customer or is the customer leading me?”
I’ve not found a circumstance in anywhere that I’ve worked that the customer leading the project works out to my benefit as the service provider. Not to say that the customers don’t know how to get the solution right, there are some customers that do. But when they do that, they’ll be doing that at your expense as a profit-making organization. So, they have no interest in protecting that. They don’t want you to go bankrupt, but they have no interest in making you money either. That’s a fair situation.
What we have to learn to do is to make sure that our role in the project is to always be leading the customer to a successful outcome, and asking them to hold us accountable to do that. The difficulty is that these are behavioral responses to circumstances that aren’t mathematically drawn out. We have to begin to recognize them. We have to begin to recognize the hallmarks of certain kinds of behavior that the customer might be exhibiting, and then have the confidence to say, “No. That’s not what we’re going to do.”
Steve Brooks: But that behavioral response you’re talking about is a big cultural shift. Some consultants, good consultants, will say, “Oh there’s a problem here. I need to fix it,” and jump straight in. Is that always the right response?
Shane Anastasi: Sometimes that’s dangerous because we are problem solvers. I call that the distraction of the detail sometimes, which is that I’d rather get into the problem and start solving it than stepping back and saying, “Maybe this isn’t a problem that needs solving at all.”
It’s very, very important that we view what we’re doing with a very critical eye from a perspective of how we use our time, and to keep looking at the project at the close up level with all the detail and its minutiae and all the things that we love as consultants, because we love to fix and solve problems, but to also pull ourselves out of that environment sometimes and look at the project as a big picture and say, “Where am I and why am I heading in this direction?”
If we don’t do that, then I do just get sucked into the fray. I think that’s how we feel about projects as a whole. I feel like we’ve been sucked into an industry and that’s just the way it is.
A little story that draws that out is that as a younger kid, I did training as a lifeguard for swimming. One of the things that they taught us, as you do for emergency response training, is that before you ever react to an accident, the number one thing above all others is for you to assess the environment and to not run into a dangerous environment.
You never want from a first responder is a first responder to get injured reacting to an emergency situation. I’ve never really had to put this in play except for the one time that I was walking in a country town in Australia with my girlfriend and a car accident happened right in front of us. It happened in the middle of a two-lane road and a car drove up and onto a light pole in the middle of these two lanes. And my girlfriend next to me immediately took off towards the car. I had to grab her and I did it instinctively, because of the training that said, “Just wait.”
And what was thankful about that was that the traffic was still going on both sides of this car at that point in time. It took maybe 10 seconds, 15 seconds for the road traffic to be safe enough for us to go across. I don’t know whether or not if she was in any real danger of getting hit by a car at that particular point in time. But it definitely kicked in from a perspective of, “no, don’t rush in. Survey the environment first, make a decision about when you’re going to go, not if you’re going to go. You are going to go, but make a decision when is the right time to go.”
Steve Brooks: That’s really being proactive to doing something about a situation as well, and that’s important, isn’t it, for a consultant?
Shane Anastasi: Yeah. It’s funny, I do harp on this word of proactivity. Cause I truly believe that what we have become sometimes, in implementations of projects, is that we’ve become passive. We’ve become reactive to everything. We wait to see what the customer will say, and then we react to that. And then, we try to make them happy. That potentially is the worst approach that we can take for a project.
What we need to do is to proactively say to customers sometimes, “You’re not going to get what you want,” or proactively say to them, “If I give you what you want, it comes with this consequence. Are you willing to accept that consequence?” And sometimes we’re frightened to say that. it really is trying to find a way for consultants to take the “if” away from if I’m going to react. We want all of them to react. And we don’t want them to ask if. This is just our job.
Our job is to tell customers that they can have certain things and that they can’t have other things, and finding that balance between the two. What I like about this approach is that although it sounds a little kind of aggressive or one-sided, if you take it that way, well, you’ll never succeed as a service provider. You can’t just shove things down a customer’s throat, they just won’t take it.
There’s a natural balance that happens here which is that if you go too far to one side, you get a penalty. I feel like we’re too far on the other side and getting that penalty. We have to shift more to the middle, but definitely leaning towards us leading the projects.
Steve Brooks: What you’re saying is it’s not just about making the customer happy. It’s about delivering the customer success, because there are always going to be tough times on the journey.
Shane Anastasi: Yeah, absolutely. It’s about using your expertise of sometimes hundreds of projects like this, and using that to guide the customer through the choices they have to make. One of the things that we were trying to do at one point was perfect our selling strategy. And one of the things that we looked at during the sales cycle was the advantage of being able to describe to the customer the kinds of challenges they were going to face on the journey.
Being able to clearly say to them, “Here are those challenges. We have some answered, but not all of them. And what we’re going to have to do as a team is work together to find ways to overcome them when we reach them.” And we found that customers responded to that in a very positive manner. It wasn’t that a customer would say, “Well I’m going to go with a company that’s telling me there’s going to be no challenges.” Customers know that there is a bad success rate for projects out there. That’s why they have such a low view sometimes of consulting companies.
They know that projects fail and they don’t want to be on that list. But if I said to you as a stakeholder. “There’s a report here that said that, I think it was from Harvard Business Review, that said that 50 billion to 150 billion of IT expenditure was wasted on projects every year.” You would think again about whether or not you want to put your butt on the line, the project that you’re telling the company that you work for is going to be a success, I think you’d think again.
Steve Brooks: What does a professional services firm need to do to change their culture or to change their processes?
Shane Anastasi: You hit the nail on the head is that it’s as much a cultural change as it is an operational change. And I think that we need to, first of all, change the culture of how we see ourselves inside of the company, and whether that be a consulting only firm or whether that be a services firm inside of a product company. We have to see our role, as the delivery team, as not being encumbered by the sales process. The sales process is going to continue to be the sales process. We can always work with the sales team to be better at it.
But we’re not going to change the fact that the sales process is a customer led activity. Customers say, “I have money to spend,” and we all bid for that money. Going in there and telling the customer that they’re not going to get what they want means that you don’t close deals, means that you don’t make money.
The first thing is separating that anxiety and turning that inwardly to our own service and saying, “How can we do better? How can we accept these as a part of the challenge for delivering professional services? And how can we find ways, operationally, to work around it?” But make that a part of the culture. Every SoW is misaligned, that’s our job. Our job is to help customers find the answer in this misaligned commitment.
Steve Brooks: How do you go about changing the culture? It’s always easy to say, it’s never easy to do.
Shane Anastasi: Yes. To change culture, you have to understand culture. Culture is created by the masses within the team. One of the things that was a real “ah-ha” for me is that as the CEO, it was pointless for me to try and create culture. My job was to try and sow the seeds of the culture that I wanted and to see where that led. Then, I would learn if I was sowing a good seed or a bad seed, based on how it flourished. That that starts with us caring about the fact that consulting is a difficult job.
I found that one of the things that really held our organization together at CirrusOne was the fact that all of the executives had been consultants, that we constantly recognized that consulting is a difficult job and that all we’re trying to do, as consultants, is to find ways to get better. We will never be flawless. We will never be faultless. We will always have issues that we are dealing with but consulting, in itself, is a very difficult job. If we begin to take that as a part of the culture, the rest of it can grow from there.
So, it is difficult. What are we going to do about it? Are we just going to sit here and take it? Or are we going to create a culture of wanting to go fix it? Now, you get the ability to guide that culture in a direction. You get to hire people that you think align with that idea, people that align with the idea of “oh, I’m not going to take it. I’m going to go try and find a way to fix it.” Then when you hire and you start bringing people in like that, that’s where you start to positively affect the culture.
But you have to have a belief as an organization that you can take corrective action to fix some of these things, despite the fact that they’re daunting, that they keep happening, that they’re somewhat outside of your control sometimes, you have to generate a belief that we never stop trying to address it.
Steve Brooks: We’re talking about culture and we’re talking about process and we’re talking about changing both. Is there one that comes before the other? You infer that process change comes before culture change.
Shane Anastasi: Yeah. I think it does and I’ll explain why. I’ve looked at this several different ways. When we looked at how to roll out the PS Principles training for other companies in the most effective manner, what we learned was it is very, very hard for a company to come in and say, “We’re going to change culture. We’re just going to change culture.”
What happens is the people that are generating that culture have no incentive to do it. They have no belief that you believe that we want to change culture. We have that culture for a reason. Like I said before, it’s not generated by the managers. It’s seeded by the managers and generated by the field.
What we decided to do in order to try and make our rollouts more effective was to start with these operational changes. And then, what we say to the consultants is, “We’re changing the way the company operates. That’s how much we care about doing things differently. It’s not your problem. It’s our problem. But for you to keep up, here is the training that I need you to take, which will change your idea of becoming proactive on a project rather than reactive.
“And I’m not saying that you’re at fault. I’m saying that we’ve never trained you. That’s our fault. Here’s what we’re doing about it. We’re changing the way we operate to give us a greater chance of success. And we’re hoping that you will follow us, as a company, to see where this leads.”
And I think that is an easier way to change the culture and a more effective way to change the culture than to simply say. “You guys are doing it wrong. I have all the right operating procedures in place. Don’t blame me. You’re doing it wrong. We just need to hire better.” I feel like that’s what we say sometimes in services firms when we say to the company, “we’re going to change the culture, but we’re not going to change anything about the operating procedures that created that culture.” We have to start there. I could be wrong in that, but I do believe that very firmly.
Steve Brooks: You can’t talk about culture without talking about values. What were the values and how important were they at CirrusOne?
Shane Anastasi: Yeah. sometimes I get confused between, say, values and principles. So, I wrote the book, ‘The Seven Principles of Professional Services’, to try and bring those principles in, but they don’t really describe the values. And so, what you have to do, there’s a great book. It’s called The Oz Principles. I can’t remember the authors. If you go get that, and there’s another one called ‘Change the Culture, Change the Game’. You can read that book and it gives you an idea of, what they call, the Results Pyramid. It connects culture with all of these different elements, principles, values, behaviors’ and so on.
What you have to make sure in your organization is that your values align with the culture that you’re trying to generate. I believe the right values inside a professional services firm is obviously one of recognizing that it’s hard. So, hence, we value you as an individual. Because you, as an individual, are what makes or breaks our projects. You do it. I don’t do it as an executive. You do it. It’s so easy for companies to fall into a culture of, “well, the field army doesn’t matter”. The field army does matter. They are the most important element, because what they do is how we make money.
And I think recognizing that and valuing that, and then building your values from that, is where the heart of a professional services culture lies. If you’re not addressing the fact that we make money off of your time and then value that, that is what leads us astray when it comes to the culture that we have in a professional services firm.
Steve Brooks: What’s the first step a business leader needs to take, in terms of changing his or her success rate?
Shane Anastasi: It has to be identifying where are we honestly going wrong? For us it’s probably the same for most companies but, again, every services firm is different. The first place is how we write the SoWs, how we set projects up for success. How we kick projects off is the next area to look at.
Do we kick them off positively? Do we make sure the customer is engaged at kick off? Do we make sure that we have a very rounded kick off? That isn’t focused on making that meeting the first design session, but actually setting the tone for the project. Cause that’s what kick off is about.
It’s not the first solutioning session. It’s about saying, “Hey customer. Are you onboard with how we’re going to run this project?” After that then, it comes down to stakeholder engagement. And if I had to pick the three things that every firm should evaluate from a perspective of trying to get project success correct, I would say. It’s understanding how to write the SoW, to focus more on the journey and less on the destination.
The second thing is how you run kick off, how you bring the customer into kick the project off successfully. In other words, how do you set off in the boat together heading in the right direction? And then, the third is how do you hold yourself and the customer accountable throughout the journey to provide that stakeholder engagement that we talked about before? Make sure that the steering committee meetings happen and that they’re productive and productive at keeping the project on course, not getting into the boat with the team and trying to work out what’s wrong.
Steve Brooks: I know three is a magic number, but the fourth thing, isn’t it about making sure you know what done looks like and what customer success looks like?
Shane Anastasi: Yeah. Using my own principles back on me, but yes. Absolutely. One of the things that all of this boils down to is, and why it’s a principle, is that, while everybody’s in this boat, somebody has to be caring about where we’re headed. That’s why knowing what done looks like is the second principle, but it’s always know what done looks like. That means that at every point in the journey, it’s got to be somebody’s job to step back from the project, look out of the boat and say, “Where is it that we’re heading?” To make sure that that point is always known.
It’s not always stable because it shifts, as a project travels along its journey. But it’s important that we always know where a project’s destination is at this point in time. Whenever we don’t, that’s when it becomes an issue. But then again, it comes down to, that’s a hard thing for us to walk into a project team and say, “Well do you know what done looks like?” What you do want them doing is saying, “Have you assessed whether or not you are all in unison about where done is right now? Are we all heading for the right outcome on this project?”
And what you typically find is that the idea of where done is for a project shifts almost on a weekly basis from project to project, especially during the early phases as you start to decide what is it that we’re actually able to do? Once you stabilize that vision, done shifts a little bit as you get towards the end, when you find out things that you didn’t find out during the discovery process. But during the discovery process, done can shift wildly.
Steve Brooks: Thank you very much Shane.
Shane Anastasi: Hey, my pleasure Steve. This has been a real good discussion.
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