Lessons Learned #16: Once You Lose A Point, You Never Get It Back

I can still recall seeing the young man wearing a t-shirt with that slogan. The shirt had an image of a basketball player taking a shot, with the ball still in the air. Though it referred to the game of basketball, the broader message of course, was that in life, you don’t want to miss any “points”. You need to make everything count, there are no “do-overs”.

I think about this message each year during the NBA finals. Despite our disappointment in the fact that the Heat did not win this year, one has to agree (if one is to be objective) that the team that missed the least number of “points” won.

As I thought about this further, I found myself making the connection to the construction industry. I thought about how a “point” could represent “TIME.” So it was that I came around to the idea that “once you lose a day, you never get it back.”

Sure, you can try to make up for the lost day; but those efforts will not come without cost and the use of resources that were probably dedicated to other projects.

Over the years I have watched many projects begin to lose their flow, as problems develop, forcing the schedule to drag out. It seems that the work force and those in charge adjust to accept the ever slowing pace that results. In the industry, we call it “loss of momentum.” Due to the nature of my work, I have walked through many of these jobs to observe and record the problems and the corresponding impacts on the progress. In most cases the sensation is palpable; you can literally feel the drag of the project that has lost its mojo!

It is natural to assume that in the face of those circumstances, management must take charge to lead, motivate and set the examples that will help turn things around. However, that can be an insurmountable challenge, whenever the conditions have persisted for a long time. There is a real, psychological component to the slowdown of work on a project.  As long as human beings and not robots are doing the majority of the work in the field, that will be the case.

In my experience, by the time that most projects get to the stage where the “wheels have come off” it is too late to make any meaningful change. The inertia that has LL 16 - picturebuilt up by then is too great to overcome. Even by employing a Herculean effort, at a tremendous cost, those projects typically result in financial losses.

The lesson to be learned here is clear, you need to adopt the attitude at the beginning of the job that “once you lose a day, you never get it back.”

Chris Bosh, Game 6 – June 12, 2014

A Message To My Readers

I have shared my views on a variety of subjects in these pages for more than a year now. The positive feedback that I’ve received from many of you has been encouraging and continues to motivate me. It’s especially pleasing when you share your thoughts with me. In fact, one of the best compliments I received was from a contractor who said “of course I read every single issue, why wouldn’t I, they are short, to the point and you’re giving me free advice.”

Those were my main goals when I first started Lessons Learned.

I urge you to take advantage of this platform I’ve established by reaching out with your concerns on topics that you would like me to discuss. I will entertain any suggestions that are relevant to construction management, project documentation and other administrative challenges. Please send an email with your comments.

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