Circle the Wagons

I grew up watching TV Westerns. Shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza and Wagon Train. I loved watching the exploits of the gun slingers, cowboys and ranchers as they protected what was theirs. Out of that era came the phrase “Circle the Wagons”. This expression came from the 1800’s immigrants to the Old West and suggest that a group of people must work together to protect themselves from external danger or attack.

Like many idiomatic expressions with long histories, “circle the wagons” has taken on new meanings as time has passed. It is now used when overwhelming circumstances arise and the team needs to focus not only on the problem but viable solutions that work.

Often when projects we have designed and documented are being constructed, stuff happens and someone will say “It is time to Circle the Wagons”. We circle up the team, lay out a plan and get through it. So how do you solve problems faced in the midst of a fast moving construction schedule?

Determine the extent of the problem and understand what caused it.

  • Design or document deficiencies
  • Poor workmanship
  • Owner changes
  • Unforeseen weather conditions

Identify where you need to go to get the facts/knowledge to solve the problem.

  • Other stakeholders
  • Agencies
  • Vendors

Weigh the risk & rewards of the different solution options as they relate to…

  • Schedule
  • Cost
  • Scope/Quality Compromise

Decide on a solution and implement it!

When you face your next problem, “Circle the Wagons”. Get the stakeholders together, focus on the problem and follow a process of problem solving. Then and only then can you get back on the trail. Give us a call we would love to help.

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