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Sustainable Management: The Invisible Enemy


Costs, deadlines and quality make up the three vertices of the triangle that determine decision-making in any project. Underestimating the importance of any of them can produce a dangerous imbalance that threatens the success of the project by exposing it to serious risk. What’s more, if this takes place unintentionally, ‘Houston, we have a problem!’

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The greatest risk that any organization faces is the one it fails to see, the one that   goes unnoticed, and the one that we are not sufficiently prepared for. These are our dreaded invisible enemies, and we should not confuse the word invisible with imagined. These enemies are very real and their consequences are often catastrophic.

” The project director must successfully juggle the costs, deadlines and quality and keep them balanced in order to guarantee a correct management.

All projects have three powerful horsemen that the project director must correctly juggle so they are all kept in a delicate and unstable balance.  These horsemen are Costs, Deadlines, and Quality, and this last one can be defined as the identification of the client’s requirements and the satisfying of his expectations. Two out of the three swordsmen march straight ahead. Deadlines come with the clock and never miss a beat. Costs are closely escorted by cash accounting where nothing comes in or goes out without a safe-conduct. And the third? Quality is different and comes in disguise. It is blurred, its size is not specific. It is based on perception and appears to be demure and shy. It does not wish to disturb. “Don’t worry about me!” It whispers flatteringly to the project director. “Worry about the other two.” However, it is a sleeper cell that is waiting for its operational signal which is the project director’s triumphant and yet fateful exclamation: “We have advanced to the 90% progress mark.”

This sentence acts as a wake-up call and it is then when Quality removes its sheep’s disguise to reveals its real face, one which has been patiently waiting in the wings since the very start of the project. “Come and bow before me Deadline and Cost! For I am the Shortage of Quality and before me you will bend down!” It calls out threateningly.

” When quality is overlooked a project will suffer: Neverending deadlines, skyrocketing costs and a failure to achieve 100 % of it planning.

I will spare you the rest of the story but will simply say; the deadlines became never ending, the costs skyrocketed and the remaining 10% stretched on into infinity and beyond…… Allow me to share a few thoughts: The financial and reputation problems that an organization may have are only symptoms and no illness can be cured by attacking the symptoms. The etiological analysis of the different pathologies affecting any organization always ends up showing that the underlying reason behind problems is the lack of quality. Inadequate quality for what is done and how it is done. An organization that is not clear on this point and that fails to look after quality in the way that it deserves is heading inexorably towards failure.

JMDR Foto de contribuyente blog

José Manuel Delgado, Sustainable Management director at Abengoa.

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