The Trouble With Quick Wins

Is that they usually aren’t. There are three reasons:

  1. Their impact is too small to register on any performance scale as a ‘win’. This means that the project is never at the top of anyone’s list of priorities and is never fully delivered.
  2. They consume more effort than you originally estimate. The lack of progress means that you have to spend more time managing your project and communicating with and influencing your reluctant stakeholders.
  3. They prevent you from getting on with more important projects. This is the biggest reason of all. As Apple boss, Steve Jobs, once said, “It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

So what should you do instead? The simple answer is to get on with the important stuff. If something is valuable, but difficult, that is all the more reason to do it.

Quick Wins are only justified when they are an intrinsic part of delivering a Big Win. By all means celebrate your early, small victories that form critical early steps towards a major business improvement, but don’t get sucked into the vortex of project madness where you end up pursuing quick wins for the sake of it.

© Stuart Cross 2010. All rights reserved.

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