Building quality involves cost. You spend efforts and energy on preventing the errors (prevention cost) and then checking your work (appraisal cost). These are positive costs, or rather investments that ensure that you get it right the first time.
The cost of rework when you or customer identifies a LOT of defects(internal/external failure costs) is huge and highly damaging too. It can have a direct impact on your business bottom lines.
So how do you maximize your possibility of getting it first time right when you deal with projects? Here are three most important things I could think of:
Clarity: In projects (or in any initiative), when you shoot in the dark, the bullet comes back to kill you. Most projects fail because of lack of clarity. Project team needs to be clear of the purpose, business need, specific requirements of the customer and other implicit expectations. Clarity also demands a clear visibility in process, setting up right rituals, monitoring practices and responsibilities of the project team. Clarity means openness in communication.
Discipline: Execution demands discipline to do right things consistently. It demands emotional labor. The plans you established needs to be followed. When you decide to review early and often, you should. Discipline, in simplest terms, is your ability to fill the gap between what you know and what you actually do.
Constant Improvement: You planned, you did and then you also reviewed. Based on your experiences, you should be able to improvise your processes. Change the tracks for better efficiency. Inculcate better habits. Fine tuning and alignment that happens in this phase not only helps you in this project, but also in subsequent ones.
I do not undermine the need to make mistakes and learn from them. When we research or try to innovate, we essentially do that with the objective of learning. But what about applying our lessons well? We can always get that right the first time, only if we decide to!
P.S: On a second thought, you can only innovate when you don’t have to worry about doing the routine stuff right. That is where processes and FTR approach can really help.