If you can’t maintain full speed for the entire race is it better to start fast or end fast?


We’d all prefer to maintain world record pace throughout if we could, but for most of us that is not possible, and in my view finishing fast is definitely preferable to starting fast.

After the event you will be remembered mostly for how you finished rather than how you started.

Focussing on finishing well cultivates a results based culture where outcomes matter the most.  A focus on starting well will push strategy to the front of the priority list.  When I have to choose I’ll select optimal results with reasonable strategy over perfect strategy and average outcomes every time.

A challenge for many IT organisations comes from a definition of success which allows a project team to claim they finished well long before results are in.  An IT operating model which allows projects to claim success because of on-time and on-budget delivery is missing the critical realisation phase where benefits are measured.  Many project teams have moved on or disbanded before the results are known which effectively leaves players congratulating each other at the three-quarter mark.

Imagine an athletic event which awarded prizes based on performance at the three-quarter mark regardless of how things looked at the end?  Crazy but exactly what many large organisations do with their IT projects.

I like to run my projects starting at full pace to establish momentum and a culture which can’t tolerate too many obstacles to moving quickly.  This is followed by a sustainable rhythm which allows all the players to last the distance.  Then finally moving back to peak performance after release where everyone is focussed on reacting quickly to customer experience and feedback. 

The cooling off lap and prize giving should only occur after measurable results are collected which match the project objectives.
 

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