You’ve completed your planning phase – whether it’s specifying value and mapping the value stream, Defining / Measuring / Analyzing, or Planning – and you’re ready to move into Creating Flow, Improving, or Doing. Hooray! The pilot plan has been finalized, the Process Owner says it’s fine, the team is ready to move forward. And then…

Little cracks start appearing in the plan. “We forgot about…” “One of our team members says the plan won’t work because…” “We thought the computer system did THIS and instead it works like THAT so our plan needs to be changed!”

How many times have yougone through these pre-improvement jitters? Is it a matter of staying calm in the face of chaos, staying the course, trusting the process? Have you ever had an experience where you really did have to call a halt and regroup, because you found out that there was a major roadblock in your path?

As an optimist, I try to stay flexible and reassure the team that we can address issues as they appear, usually by obtaining additional information and clarifying the issue before deciding that we need to make a change. But I have had to halt a project just as we were moving into Improve, because the hospital decided to implement a new computer system in the department just at that time, rather than waiting for the project to be completed. And in fact, if we had completed our project without the new system, we probably would have had to re-do the process following the system implementation anyway. Plus, the same people who were on our team were also the people who were wanted for the design of the new system, so there was a resource conflict as well.

What we did was to put the project on “hiatus” for three months. Then, we re-measured and re-analyzed, to see if we still hadthe same critical factors, tweaked our Improve plan, and proceeded. It didn’t feel very good at the time, but it all worked out in the end.

Have you had this experience? How did you handle a halt or delay in a project that was in full swing? Please share your stories!

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