Achieving a 700-fold ROI


“What a terrific result! We need to apply this approach to all our projects.” That was Don’s enthusiastic response. He was a mining executive who’d just recognised a 700-fold return on his investment.

So what had Don invested in – advanced geological mapping, new high-technology driverless trucks, off-shoring of engineering design work? No. He’d invested in a workshop to review the company’s design of a major port expansion project.

Same people, better thinking

Applying systems and design thinking with people drawn from a range of business functions, the workshop yielded a far better result. The team better defined their business needs, inspiring an improved project design that largely eliminated project risks and reduced capital and operating costs by at least 10 percent. That represented a 700-fold return on the investment in the review. No new technology, no additional effort thereafter, just better placed effort.

Importantly, what Don recognised was that the process used in the review could be applied to any of their other projects or programs. He was right. Indeed, that’s the opportunity that’s staring public and private enterprise in the face. It’s the elephant in the pink tutu standing in the corner of the room that no-one seems to notice (or wants to acknowledge).

With some practical, replicable and scalable shifts in the way problems are defined and solutions designed, businesses and government agencies can unlock sustainable productivity improvements. This means more bankable, successful public infrastructure and private capital projects. Consulting and delivery organisations applying the same methods can enhance their competitiveness, win rates and growth.

You can do it too … but will you?

“So how can I achieve a similar result?” is an obvious question? Is that what you’re thinking now? Perhaps the more important insight arises from asking “Why aren’t more organisations replicating this sort of approach?” If you could really transform results from your team or business, would you take even the first step in this evolution or just return to the next thing on your to-do list? What might your peers or competitors do? Think about it.