Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fast, Good, Cheap – Choose

Several years ago a management professional shared with me this principle, “You can’t get all three values:  fast, good, cheap.” I have found it true. 

Imagine you want to produce a newcomer’s brochure for your congregation.  You want it fast, good, and cheap.  It will not happen.  Here is what will happen:
You can get it fast and good, but it will not be cheap.
You can get it fast and cheap, but it will not be good.
You can get it good and cheap, but it will not come fast.

So, when you plan events, activities or need items, you will want to keep this rule in mind.  You will want to take the time to decide your priorities. 

For example, last year we decided we needed to improve the ramp for handicap access into the Cathedral.  We even received a generous grant from The Episcopal Foundation to help with this project.  Our primary goal was an ADA compliant ramp that enhanced the entrance to the Cathedral.  It has now been a full year since we started, and we have yet to begin any construction.  Our essential mistake was that, typical of churches, we wanted it fast and cheap.  I imagined it would take about a month, two at most, to execute.  Our problem was that we forgot to ask the priority question.  What will be our primary value in taking on this project?  I do not mean the obvious “providing access.”  I mean what value would our leaders and members use in evaluating this project.  I should have anticipated the answer.

I have learned that the primary value we use when related to the Cathedral Church is “good.”  We consider the architecture and aesthetics of the Cathedral building a heritage.  We are stewards of this inheritance.  On the other hand, our other facilities are often valued by “cheap.”  For example, “What is the cheapest price we can get for fixing our 70 year old air conditioning system?” As soon as we had our first architectural rendering, I knew the ramp was in trouble.  It fit the budget (cheap) but no one liked the way it looked (good).  After lengthy discussions, we came up with an alternative.  This looked great, but our first estimate was way over our budget.  We could now get good and fast, but it would not be cheap.  This led us back to the drawing board one more time.

My point is that much of this could have been anticipated if I could have remembered the critical formula: you can’t get fast, good, and cheap at the same time.  You can only get two. 

You will want to consider this critical formula when you consider a new website, an addition to present buildings, the remodeling of any present areas, any printed materials, what color to paint the rectory, and any other myriad of decisions.  Remember fast, good and cheap; you probably will not get all three.  Knowing which of these is the most important will save time and confusion.  Oh, and if anyone tells you they can get something for you fast, good, and cheap, the person is probably in sales! 

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