Trust your gut

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Recently a situation came up at work where we ran into a critical performance issue with one of our key suppliers.  Their performance raised grave concerns, and all the mitigation activities we undertook in the past week did not help.  The work output was simply not acceptable in either quality or quantity.

The ironic thing was that we had concerns going into this relationship.  The supplier came in with glowing recommendations, and they had expertise in a key area that was of vital importance to us.  During the due diligence process, something didn’t feel right.  But they submitted a credible RFP, so we went with them anyways, against our gut instincts.

Looking back, I now realize the warning signs were all there when we were processing the RFP’s.  The performance problems today were foreshadowed by cues we picked up in various conversations.  We picked them due to their domain expertise, but at this point, not only have we not enjoyed the benefit of that, we are also facing the prospect of a large mitigation effort to fix this mess, which meant lost dollars and lost time in the development cycle.

My M.O. in hiring in a time of great schedule pressure has trended in the direction of domain expertise.  But this time I made the wrong call.  I should have listened to our gut and gone for the best athlete instead.  There was another bidder who came in very strong, with a fairly competitive price, but who did not have the specific expertise we required.  I have a feeling that we would be in a much better situation if we had gone with them instead.

Lesson learned: trust your gut. If all logic points one way, but your gut tells you to go a different way, there is usually something profound at work and it’s worth stopping in your tracks and trying to figure out why.

At least we caught this issue early and will be able to address it swiftly – no point in letting a bad situation drag on.

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