Yesterday, I talked about two hidden risks — employee overload and poor contract management — and how to deal effectively with them. There are two others that lurk in the depths of day-to-day corporate life which could cost companies a lot of wasted time and money if not handled effectively.

Projects that never end

It is a non-intuitive truth that creativity thrives within limitations. And limiting the reach and life span of a group tasked with solving a specific problem is essential. Lack of restrictions too often leads to an overgrowth of scope that results in a bloated project that drags on indefinitely.

Fortunately, avoiding this is far from rocket science. First, take a common sense approach to getting things done. Insist on defining projects up front, establishing succinct written goals.

Second, remember that when it comes to the size of committees, more is often less. Keeping the project team small is practical, and select a leader who is able to maintain focus and push the process along.

Third, delegate both responsibility and the necessary authority. Fourth, require that the team create a set of milestones tied to a firm timetable. Fifth, ensure that the reporting relationship is clear, and establish a pattern of consistent follow-up and feedback.

Finally, encourage a corporate culture that drives open issues to closure rather than conducting endless explorations. Reward completion.

Holding out for the big fix

You have identified a significant risk. The next step is to address it as expeditiously as possible. But you are being lured by the siren song of the big fix.

The temptation to seek a larger solution that simultaneously addresses myriad issues can be almost irresistible. The logic may seem unassailable. Who wouldn’t want a systemic solution with broad, long-term benefits?

But holding out for the big fix has two major downsides: time and money. Fact-finding, planning, sourcing and implementing a global, integrated solution can take years and consume major resources. The problem you initially set out to solve will fester in the meantime.

What to do? Don’t disdain the interim solution. Spending relatively small dollars now allows you to maintain your focus on the problem that started all this in the first place — the risk you need to deal with as soon as possible.

An affordable interim solution that can be quickly implemented will buy you much needed time. You can use this to fully explore the big fix before you commit major dollars and substantial resources.

This prevents you from having to choose between an easily implemented solution of limited scope and the desirable, more powerful integrated system.

It may seem counter-intuitive to move in multiple directions at the same time, but the wisdom of following parallel paths is time-proven. This strategy allows you to reach your initial goal quickly while giving you a better shot at ultimately making the ideal solution a reality.