Many hours wasted – Introducing the “Project Clock”

Just the other day I was involved in a heated brainstorming session regarding a new client brief. After many hours of deliberation and debate, we arrived at what looked like a simple yet effective solution to the client’s problem. As always, we took forward the plan, created a sort of concept note and went ahead and presented it to the client. Instant feedback at the end of the presentation from the client was, “It’s a good solution to a problem, but this is not our problem”. Immediately the realisation hit us like an anvil to the head, there was a clear misunderstanding with regards to the clients brief.

This understanding of clients brief “in brief” happens many times, and here I am going to generalise and say “it happens with all of us”, especially when the expectations and scope of work is less and other work pressure high. However, if I just calculated the amount of time wasted on this one project it would be somewhere around 16-18 hours including presentations. If we had just understood the “real brief” and dealt with the “real problem” we would have saved a lot more time and probably even delivered a better solution, faster.

It is then that I decided to draw out a project process chart, which would not only serve as a ready guide to what process to follow, stage at which the project is but also ensure due diligence within each stage. Below is the said chart;

process clock

I call the above “The Project Clock”. The way it should be read is very similar to how we read clocks/watches or any analog time piece. The “Blue- hour hand” indicates the stage at which the project is and the “Orange – minute hand” indicates the stage of due-diligence it is going through. So, in the case of the above figure the project is in the “Understanding the problem” phase and is going through the” articulation/evaluation” process.

The model suggests that all 12 phases of the project should necessarily go through the “due-diligence” processes. E.g. When we get a new brief, which is the “Hour-Zero” on the Project Clock; we need to 1: Understand the Brief 2: Articulate/Evaluate the brief ourselves 3: Question the efficacy, strength, reason etc. of the brief 4: Consider the way forward onto “Hour- One: Understanding the problem”.

By following this model or any adaptations of this model, we should be able to ensure lesser error in the whole project life-cycle.


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