As I continue to blog about innovation and the creative ways to inspire your team to create more value (including time) I wanted to take a moment to consider where this point of diminishing returns is. Many of you may have examined graphs detailing the detriment of overtime on individual productivity both over short and long term timelines. This is some pretty well documented science, so as the innovative project managers that you are, you search for project solutions and finished products with that in mind. In the same fashion that you seek to complete the core function of a project within a fixed budget by cutting non-essential scope, you begin to expedite your projects by cutting deliverable milestones and interim checkpoints in search of that accelerated delivery to the finish line.
Like a Republican removing regulation to stimulate the economy, project managers should not bypass any internal milestones lightly. It is highly likely that many of these deliverables were born out of failure and have created a process which is not arbitrary nor capricious but rather fundamental and essential. While I will always continue to push that envelope with many of you, often I have found that even upon careful analysis of such internal milestones within a process, their importance to the finished product is not readily evident. Many have indirect relationships to subsequent milestones which can cause incomplete or inaccurate deliverables at a later stage.
My first piece of advice on this is to simply follow the existing process as closely as possible as frequently as possible. Pressures to deviate from the existing process in the interest of schedule should flatly be resisted in the interest of quality!
A more realistic solution may be to consult a targeted expert on the given internal milestone before you circumvent it. Others more specialized or experienced than you may be able to warn you of the unforeseen consequences of skipping a step. That may lead to a hybrid version of the milestone which will trigger the downstream items needed while taking less precious time.
This is truly the quality innovation we are all looking for. This is the Quadruple Bottom Line. Don’t cut corners. Figure out a BETTER WAY TO DO IT.