If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, regardless of industry, there are three things you never want to hear, read, or experience. You’re likely to encounter them after some undertaking or other has going horribly awry, usually at the point at which the circular firing squad has been assembled or is about to be assembled. As a public service, we present them here in enumerated fashion.
1. Time is Relative
You’re likely to hear this first one after any undertaking has come up on the short end of unclear direction, incomplete definitions, arbitrarily imposed and unreasonable deadlines, or all three:
There’s never time to do it right, but there’s always time to do it over.
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of that axiom, and regardless of the nature of the undertaking, it’s likely (A) your boss told you it had to be done yesterday, (B) his boss told him it had to be done in some reasonable amount of time, (C) your boss wanted to make his boss think he was a hero, and (D) your boss blamed you for the fact that it was FUBAR the first time.
2. Price, Cost, Value
The second thing you should try to avoid like the proverbial plague is the Good, Fast, and Cheap Rule. According to this tried-and-true old saw:
Everyone wants everything good, fast, and cheap. But they can only get it two ways:
• Good and fast, but it ain’t gonna be cheap
• Good and cheap, but it ain’t gonna be fast
• Fast and cheap, but it ain’t gonna be good.
The times at which you’re most likely to encounter this gem are the ones in which (A) your boss told you it had to be done yesterday, (B) his boss told him it had to be done in some reasonable amount of time for a reasonable price, (C) your boss wanted to make his boss think he was a hero, and (D) your boss blamed you for the fact that it was either too slow or too expensive.
3. And Justice For All
The final item in this series is likely to be experienced at some point by anyone in almost every organization comprising more than two people. In fact, the larger the organization, the more likely it is to manifest. It is, of course, The Six Phases of a Project:
4. Search for the guilty
5. Punishment of the innocent
6. Praise and honors for the non-participants.
We love all of those expressions, rules, and phases. As long as we don’t know anyone on whom they’ve been inflicted, they’re funny. When real people get hurt by them, they aren’t funny at all.
At the risk of positioning ourselves as miracle workers, there is one way around all of those afflictions and aphorisms: Get it right the first time.
If you want to know how to do that, we know some guys ….