Home » Change Management » Project Management Lessons From A Radical Industrialist

Project Management Lessons From A Radical Industrialist[Ray] Anderson [founder of Interface] went on to describe industry’s toxic legacy and evoked a future in which market-leading companies like his clean up their act, compelling others to do the same. … Anderson, who described himself as a “radical industrialist,” understood that to achieve his Mission Zero goals he had to conscript his suppliers.  So in 1999 he began prodding them to come up with a process to recycle yarn, with the promise of a greater share of Interface’s business. Using Fishing Nets to Make Carpets Cleaner, Bloomberg Businessweek, Sep 8, 2014.

I was the new guy. I wanted to get the organization I inherited to start performing well.  They had a terrible reputation and I was now in charge.

I had a lot of ideas and, thankfully, so did my new team.  We made some initial improvements but then ran into a problem.  Even as we finally got our act together and delivered our software to the integration and test team, they weren’t ready to take it.  They didn’t believe we could actually ever deliver on time and so simply had not staffed up yet to do their work.

See field testing in Almost a Great Test Team

On another occasion we finally delivered software to our test team that worked well and was not buggy or unstable the first time someone tested it.  The test team, doing their normal casual testing, could not find any defects.  What did they do?  They panicked.  They felt threatened by the lack of easily finding defects.  Our great improvement in quality went unheralded because the test team conjured up all sorts of issues into an inch thick printed report in an attempt to try to remain relevant to the company.

For more see The Worst Test Team

Finally, I once took over an IT department that among other things could never deliver on time their annual budget to the finance department.  I figured we could at least deliver a budget on time and we jumped on it early and worked hard to complete it.  When I went to deliver it to the finance department, they freaked.  It turned out that they were not ready to take our budget. You see, the fact that they were late each year then putting the organization’s overall budget together had always been blamed on our department.  Once we delivered on time it uncovered the fact that they were not ready nor were they just waiting on us.  We were just a convenient scapegoat and when we cleaned up our act, they were exposed as having significant internal issues blocking a timely completion of the budget.

The pattern, and lesson, was clear but a bit frustrating.  Once we got our own act together in improving our own organization, we almost always faced the challenge of having to help our sister organizations then get their acts together.  We couldn’t improve significantly unless we also helped interlinked organizations do their part of the job better.

Compare with Managing The Critical Thread

Has any of your projects been impacted by other teams needing to change so that your project would work as expected?

For managing improvements see Get The Change Right!

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