Your Customers Don’t Care

Filed under Leadership, Requirements, Scope | Posted by PMStudent

I was in a local cafe the other day working on a Kanban training course I’ll be making available sometime soon.

I grabbed the usual coffee for fuel and then a sugar avalanche of a toffee bar caught my eye. And I bought it. Because I have no impulse control whatsoever.

I chewed the first wonderful bite, eyes closed, prepared for the caloric coma.

“Hey, this is dough!”

I hate dough. What a letdown.

Back up at the counter, I explained to the woman behind the counter that my bar was under-baked.

“Oh that comes pre-baked, we don’t bake it here.”

Wha?? That was her first response. Seriously.

  • First, using pre-baked bakery goods is a turn off.
  • Second, I don’t really care who’s fault it was.? I just want my problem solved.

Your Project Stakeholders Don’t Care

Did you notice how her first priority was to redirect blame away from herself? No, “I’m so sorry, I’ll take care of that for you.” If the blame-game came after an acknowledgment and promise for a solution, it wouldn’t have been so bad.

Do any of these sound familiar?

“Well, John was the one who told me to do it that way.”

“We assumed we could model this other project.? It’s not our fault.”

“I don’t know what they are complaining about, we verified the requirements.”

They are all excuses, and your project customer and stakeholders don’t care.? Moreover, they shouldn’t care.? Shifting blame or trying to demonstrate that, on paper, you met objectives does absolutely zilch to solve the problem.

Your customers don’t care.

And Neither Should You

On a typical project all kinds of opportunities arise to blame others.? Many people do it premeditated and yet unconscious way.? (An oxymoron, I know)

Do any of these sound familiar?

They don’t know what they want, so we’ll have to guess.”

“OK, but when this comes crashing down don’t blame me. (and where’s my red Swingline stapler?)”

“Let’s do what they did.? It’s not right, but they did it first so at least no one can point the finger at us.”

“At least if the contractor screws up, we can blame them.”

These are examples of planning to have an excuse.? Again, no one cares.? You aren’t adding any value by concocting a conspiracy of blame insurance.? You must be diligent to watch for this in yourself and in your team.? It’s rampant out there, I tell you!? Rampant!

Just Kidding.? You Should Care.

There are solutions to these problems, if you take the initiative to find and execute on them.? You and your team should be asking questions of yourselves such as:

“How can we better understand our customers’ needs?”

“How can we be candid and tactful at the same time, when telling the pointy-haired boss this is a stupid idea?”

“How can we improve upon existing processes to achieve the best possible results?”

“What can we do to better collaborate with our contractors to ensure quality, timely deliveries?”


Did the cafe manager decide to purchase boxed items instead of baking them to absolve themselves of blame if things went wrong?

The world doesn’t work that way.

I won’t blame you for anything if you share/like this on Twitter or Facebook and leave a comment below with your own story and insight.? Promise.