Mind the Gap (Analysis)

The meeting took a sudden turn for the worse when Emil stood up, walked over in front of Sharon and slammed down the report. Up to then, things had been ambling along with the usual finger pointing, back biting and general nastiness. Now, there was real confrontation.

The GPS Project had been off track for several weeks and the whipping post of every department meeting in the past 14 days. As I listened, it occurred to me that, what had been said, was true. The problem was in the structure of the conversation, or the lack of it, that prevented the team from making progress.

“What did we expect?” I asked the group.

Susan pulled out a project plan with a summarized list of milestones. “This,” she said. “This is what we expected.”

“And, what did we get?” I wanted to know.

Roberto shuffled some paper. “This is a report of the actual costs to date and the percent of completion. We spend 60 percent of our budget, but we are only 25 percent complete. I want to know whose fault it is.”

“Okay, look around the room. We are all here. Instead of looking for fault, let’s look for accountability. No single person, or one department accounts for the shortfall in productivity. Right now, we have two things to examine. We know what we want and we know what we got. In what way can we get from here to there. That is what we are going to talk about today.”

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