When the character, scope or team players of a project suddenly change, it is reasonable to expect some disruption within all aspects. The power of the ripple effects will vary depending on what the changes are.
A look at some examples may be helpful. A case in point might involve a professional firm abruptly closing down. Clients may have had no knowledge of the firm’s problems, but when a firm can no longer operate and has to step away from its projects underway, their clients are forced to seek new professional associations and connections. Such a change in mid project creates serious setbacks and problems concerning time, cost and commitments already in place.
Other changes that can disrupt a well-planned critical path may involve suppliers and manufacturers. When careful decisions have been made (after reasonable investments of time, advice and research) a project can be thrown off-track by unexpected support services failures concerning inventory, availability or simple misinformation from resources.
Of course, there are many other reasons for making significant changes in mid-project. It might be a personality clash, or a change in perceptions and expectations. (Projects can strain personal partnerships, marriages and associations – and once in a while become the catalyst for serious personal changes.)
In any case, the problem(s) must be solved and solutions found in order to keep the project on track. Or, in more critical situations, to get it back on track. Unfortunately, some projects do not weather significant changes and abruptly fail.
As with many unfortunate and disappointing changes and disruptions, it is all too easy to immediately want to fix the blame. Your professional design team is quite familiar with initial reactions to such disappointments! The fact is simply that, even with the best of conscientious controls and fail-safes, significant reversals can happen.
In recent years, many commercial projects met with significant delay and compromise due to funding difficulties. Often a project was set in motion, preliminary steps taken and serious planning begun. Unexpected reversals often occurred that stopped or delayed the process even though considerable expense and obligations were already incurred.
While economic conditions have improved many projects still experience unexpected and unwanted “game changes” directly connected to the greater economic circumstances. These ordinarily have nothing to do with blame on the part of the client or the design team!
On the bright side, some game changes are a downright, welcome relief! Once in a while, the choices made at one point in time seem less appropriate at a future date. When your design team calls your attention to the possibility (and wisdom) of a significant change – listen up! Your team is the conduit to all the factors in the pipeline serving your project.
Your team has been continually learning more about you, your project vision and your path. Flexibility balanced with cautious reconsideration is a good place to begin, when confronted with unexpected possible project changes.
Robert Boccabella, B.F.A., Certified Interior Designer
RED goes with everything! Read my blog and find out why.
Collaboration & Writing: Ms. Zoe Tummillo