Recently, I was working with a client doing a review of their largest and most important project. It had been running a few years and the Chief Executive, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Digital Officer were worried it wasn’t going well. My brief was to help them come up with a completion date that they could share with the board that they were certain they could hit.
After some time examining the scope, the system build and overall structure, communications, and the team delivering the program, it was clear that it would be impossible to give a date. Over the years, different leaders had imposed end dates on the team and had shared them with the executives and board. Each committed date came and went. Excuses were shared and the team then went through re-planning, re-scoping and re-building exercises where another date was spat out, repeating the process all over again.
This happened four different times. Each time, confidence was eroded and morale dissipated. Unfortunately, the mindset of trying to predict a date rooted in certainty took the team away from building a process that helped everyone build confidence. The process they were after was meant to take one end-to-end customer experience, break it down into a shared understanding between operations, designers and developers, build it, deploy it, and test it. Once that is completed they can measure the time it took to move through a single process, which then provides guidance on how long the next one might take.
Once this process was explained to the executives and it was shown to help them come up with a confidence level over time, they were happier. In reality, they didn’t actually want a specific date. These leaders wanted confidence that they could share with the board and stakeholders. But ultimately, leaders want confidence that their teams know what they’re doing, how they will achieve it, and to show demonstrable evidence as they go.
Do you know what your stakeholders need to have confidence that the investment you’re working on is a good one?