I was in a really good meeting today. The specification was clear as to what the client wanted to achieve and it made developing a methodology relatively straightforward.
The first meeting wasn't like this however.
The second contact (via email) wasn't like this either.
But, this third meeting was spot on.
Mis-understandings happen when people try to 'guess' the requirements of the other party, rather than allowing them time to get to grips with what it is that they really want. I see this on a fairly regular basis with my other clients and other members of their teams.
When their projects are completed you can tell that the 'specification' has been achieved, but that this specification wasn't matured to be exactly what was wanted. You can tell by the questions asked about what wasn't included...
We are all busy, but it is not worth jumping the gun on this. If you can't pull out a clear specification of what your client (be it internal or external to yourself) wants then go back and get clarification. Don't start an improvement project when it is still murky as to what you need to be doing.
It really is worth taking the time with this.
Author of Business Process Re-Engineering