Let’s do a hypothetical test. You are in a room with 5 other colleagues from your company and you are all involved in implementing the latest S&OP software(or any new process or tool or initiative) and I asked your team to come up with the top 10 issues and challenges that you have faced. Now let’s assume that run a similar exercise with five other companies and with five other teams working on a similar initiative. What do you think will be the result? Will the lists be the same? Totally different? Having been there and done this exercise many, many times let me offer you the answer. The lists will be very close to each other, if not the same. It turns out that most of the issues and challenges faced by teams in these kinds of efforts share two attributes – they are Predictable (“P”) and they are Inevitable (“I”). Predictable, meaning that we can accurately predict the biggest challenges we will face. Inevitable, meaning that there is almost total certainty that the challenges will occur.
Now let’s think about that for a minute – wouldn’t you love to be part of an initiative or a project where you can name the top 10 challenges with almost total certainty. I’m telling you, you can, and I’m willing to prove it to you. Will there be some nuances to account for in different organizations? Of course. But for the most part they will be P&I. If that is true, then why don’t teams and organizations do a better job of dealing with all of those challenges up-front, before even launching their project or initiative? Why do they wait for the events to occur and then scramble to figure out how to deal with them? Or even worse, why do most teams not even acknowledge that these issues and challenges exist?
Research and common sense also tell us that the longer we wait to deal with them, the harder it is and the more “resources” (time, money, political capital etc. etc.) we consume to deal with them. You may remember the mantra about quality – if you design quality in, you don’t have to deal with quality problems later. You will admit that designing quality in(deal with it now) is a lot better and cheaper than having to deal with market share loss(deal with it later) because of constant quality problems. You can see below that the size of the circles(effort) gets progressively larger and larger as time goes by.Most of our clients get pretty shocked when we take them through this exercise using our methodology and then share the list that we had already prepared (before the workshop) and they are pretty close to each other. They cannot believe that we could have guessed what their top 10 challenges were going to be. The real work of course is after you have the list – it’s dealing with all those issues and challenges or putting mechanisms in place to deal with them later. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this – most of the challenges you are facing on your initiative were known before you started but you and your team chose not to deal with them then, and as a result are paying a huge price to deal with them now.
How smart are you?