Balancing “doing” with “thinking”

The April 2007 Harvard Business Review has an article by Steelcase CEO James P. Hackett titled “Preparing for the Perfect Product Launch” that discusses the need for an organization to add critical thinking methodologies to their product development and planning processes. The article is a very good read in and of itself, but it also outlines a tremendously helpful framework for balancing ‘doing’ with ‘thinking’ (see “The Rules” on page 48 of the April 2007 HBR).

“The Rules”, as described by Mr. Hackett, are setup in four phases. These phases are:

  • Think – In this phase, team members are asked to consider the problem at hand, ask the right questions, research the problem and its causes and then document the outcome of the research.
  • Set the Point of View – This phase is all about setting the ‘compass’ so that the project team knows what direction they should be going.
  • Plan Implementation – This phase consists of refining the solution and planning for implementation. This phase also consists of a ‘dry run’ or ‘practice’ of the implementation processes to ensure everyone understands their roles.
  • Implement – Project launch and implementation.

The above framework is a actually pretty powerful if you take a second to think about it. How many times have you run across a project that hadn’t been thoroughly thought through? How many projects fail during implementation because project members weren’t aware of their roles? How many projects fail because the initial research into the problem wasn’t done well?

Of course, the framework probably has some holes in it, but if companies took the time to think through issues rather than just react to issues, there would probably be less failed projects (and companies) in the world.

[tags] Projects, Thinking, Harvard Business Review [/tags]