As the Dutch legend goes, there was once a young boy named Hans Brinker who, whilst on his way to school, happened upon a small leak in a dike nearby the city of Haarlem.  Spotting the imminent danger to the city should the dike fail the boy reacted by plugging the hole with his finger.  There he remained for many hours until he was spotted by a passing citizen who raised the alarm.  The dike was repaired and Hans Brinker became a hero.

Here is an alternative version;

Once upon a time on a project near you there lived a bright young project engineer named Hans Thinker.  One autumn afternoon whilst visiting a colleague on the other side of the engineering design office Hans heard a peculiar sound.  A sound similar to that of running water.  Captured by curiosity he searched to locate the source of the noise.  Following his ears, Hans moved steadily towards what appeared to be a pile of revised engineering drawings (complete with numerous comments) laying on a desk nearby.  Somewhat astounded Hans inspected the drawings closer.  He saw that they were at a significant revision state.

“Wow, these look like they have seen some alterations and revisions!” exclaimed Hans. Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to show his expertise Hans announced, “I think I can add some more to these also.”  Paying no further attention to the noise that first attracted him Hans picked up the drawings and feeling very pleased with himself, set about making his changes.

Poor Hans!  If only he had been more curious and paid more attention to the noise.  He might have realised that it was the sound of the profit margin leaking out of the project as a result of the unnecessary over-engineering and excessive revisions.  If only he’d pulled his finger out and stopped the leakage.

In fact similar scenarios at various times were occurring right across the project in engineering, purchasing and construction teams.  All cases of people failing to spot where their actions were failing to preserve the project margins.

Does this sound familiar?  How commercially aware are your teams?

Pull your finger out and plug the holes in your profit margins!!

Carl Haynes – Managing Consultant, Kingsfield Academy