September 4, 2013

Measure Twice – Cut Once – Think Always

It is better to think twice, before executing once.

There is an old adage in construction that says it is better to measure twice and cut once. If you have ever done a home improvement project, you have experienced this. The haste to get the job done has led to waste in time (it took longer), materials, and sometimes sanity (increased stress).

In business consulting I hear all the time the following…

  • We have really smart people, they can just execute.
  • Planning takes too long – it will cost money.
  • We will use our past process, it will be okay.
All of these strategies are a cut once and hope it fits process, and destined to either fail or take longer and cost more.

My attorney, Sherman Knight, during my times of great legal strife, always used the military phrase “Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.” What he was trying to get me to understand is that planning (thinking) makes for better doing (performance).

Planning, and the associated thinking required, is more critical than the immediacy of starting the execution of the task or project. Risks need to be identified, as well as opportunities. Strategies can be reviewed and developed that will more than accelerate the project completion.

How do we start the planning process:
  • What is the realistic schedule, which is usually different than the “desired” schedule. How will resources be allocated.
  • Who are the other stakeholders, and what information and buy-in is required for a successful project.
  • What are all the risks of the project, how will the risks be mitigated – and most importantly – what new processes will be needed to complete the project.
    • New technologies may be needed, or required to complete the work.
    • Time spent training resources on the new process, pays dividends over “they will learn as they go along.” The key here is to have the training as close to the execution of the work.
How many times do we just “wing it” and hope for the best outcome? Far too often. Planning, before doing, needs to become your personal, and company #1 best practice.

David Haynes, NCARB, PMP, LEED AP
Ideate Director of Consulting

David is a Registered Architect, Project Management Certified Professional, who previously had his own architectural practice and was President of a commercial design-build construction company for 15 years. A graduate of University of Arizona, he has worked as an Architect, contractor, developer and as a national construction manager for a national retailer. David currently provides business process analysis, virtualization and change management solutions for AEC clients across the United States involved in the design and building industry. Follow David on Twitter: @dhaynestech

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