You have worked for months on the planning of a new initiative or project. You have been meticulous. You have identified the key phases in the implementation process, built a budget and schedule, and marked milestones that need to be achieved at each stage. You have assembled a terrific team with talented individuals who possess complementary skill sets. Unfortunately, as you begin to execute the plan, unexpected obstacles arise. You begin to fall behind schedule, and the results do not match expectations. As you approach the first major milestone meeting, you realize that you also have exceeded your budget to date.
What do many managers do? They try to get back on plan. They work harder. They implore their team members to work harder. They throw more resources at the project. They try to catch up. That strategy can be very problematic though. Doing more of what got you into trouble in the first place does not constitute an effective strategy. Yet, that is the initial tactic often chosen when execution does not match our plan. Even worse, playing catch up can burn our people out and expend precious organizational resources. To be effective, we have to be willing to modify that original plan, or perhaps move to Plan B. However, managers often become overly committed to their original plans. They don't want to be accused of having put together a "bad plan" for the project. Instead, though, they may find themselves conducting a very "bad implementation" in part because they are trying to save face.