Act... before-the-fact

This is a recommendation sent to a client concerning a project that lacked a target customer and was late. It discusses a change in behavior that is difficult to make happen; "before-the-fact action" versus "after-the-fact reaction."

Subject: Project X

We suggest that a critical analysis of Project X be considered -- before-the-fact when you still have time to respond, rather than after-the-fact when all you can do is react. We've had the opportunity, during these X weeks, to get first hand knowledge about what appears to be the root cause(s) of the slipping schedule. Clearly the inability of the X group to complete the design and the lack of a customer for the product would make me question the viability of continuing the program.

On the positive side, the team has something they didn't have before... a communication system that ties the team together plus a realistic schedule and a way of managing it. They meet every morning and they are slowing pulling-back the schedule. On the negative side... that realistic schedule is telling them they are late and potentially getting later. But now they know this before-the-fact, well before they miss the next major milestone.

Since they have not had this information in the past, they don't know what to do when the instrument panel is telling them they are flying into a mountain... should they believe their instruments and pull-up or hope that they (the instruments) are wrong and keep flying straight and level?

  • What advantage can you get by acting on this before-the-fact, rather than after the inevitable happens.

  • What is the financial upside for taking aggressive action now versus later?

  • What is the net-present-value of making the decision?