August 27, 2015 Anil Saxena

Can There Be Too Much Review?

Review sessions are important of course, so managers and teams can make sure requirements are being fulfilled, but is there such thing as too much review?

On a recent very time sensitive client project there were 5 reviews of the final product:
• Round 1 “Final Review”
◦ The group that created the final product
• Round 2 “Final Review”
◦ The group’s bosses
• Round 3 Final Review
◦ HR
• Round 4 “Final Review”
◦ Group of consultants
• Round 5 “Final Review”
◦ Another internal “cross-functional” review board.
At each round of reviews:
• People found small things to change.
• Rehashed decisions that were made previously.

• Second-guessed the group that created the final product.
• Wordsmithed…. a lot.
In the end the final product is not very different than the “original” final product. The only difference is that the end product was delayed by months, literally.
The group “empowered” to create the final product felt undermined and demoralized.
Sure, there will be the need for review and changes – it can help prevent dissatisfied customers, lawsuits, and even embarrassment, but putting every project through the review wringer only damages the overall quality of the project. Little by little, the original idea is chipped away, leaving some barely recognizable version of everyone’s best intentions – instead of the goal of the original project.
Don’t add extra checks that don’t actually add something of value to the end product (as in make it better).   Not only does this slow down productivity and add all kinds of unnecessary delays to a project, it also takes autonomy away from the people doing the actual work. As Daniel Pink stated in Drive – “Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives” is one of the key elements in highly productive workers.

Without it productivity, creativity and overall quality suffers
If the project team knows that no matter what they do, the project will be scrutinized from all angles, with seemingly endless proposals for change, their interpretations of a client or project manager’s vision becomes less and less important, and the end product suffers.

That group creating the final product shifts from “owners” to “just workers” when autonomy is taken away.
When putting a project in the hands of a project team, trust their expertise! There’s a reason they are the designers, writers, developers, subject matter experts – let them do what they do best.
A project may never be perfect, but it doesn’t need to be passed over by every single set of eyes in a company. Grant the skilled professionals the autonomy they deserve, and the work will reflect the personal care they put into it.
What does your organization do to instill autonomy?

Anil Saxena is the President of Cube 2.14, an organizational development consulting firm that works with clients to increase both customer and employee engagement while decreasing turnover, improving customer retention, and increasing profitability within organizations.

Saxena is a certified High Impact coach and trainer and a Joint Application Design facilitator. He is also certified by both Rush Systems and IBM as a focus group facilitator. He is an inaugural member of Northwestern University’s Learning and Organizational Change program, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.


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