Raise Red Flags Early

Recently I started planing a large project - one that would take well over a year for my team to pull off. This is the largest project that I've helmed, so it has been exciting and scary at the same time. In a lot of ways it's like throwing a dart at a dartboard that is 100 yards away.

As I was breaking down a major portion of the project into a list of pieces - and I realized there was no way that my team could deliver in the timeline that we had originally planned. There are a lot of reasons for this, but they're beside the point of this post.

The best thing I did was make a lot of noise about how we were not going to meet our deadline. And I did it early.

How early? The deadline was 8 months away. But I knew, even then, that given our resources and the scope of the work, it wasn't feasible. I didn't sit on this news, or try to hide it, or make excuses.

What I learned was that because I raised my concerns so early (and backed them up with concrete facts) - my coworkers and stakeholders took the news extremely well. They were all reasonable and understood the situation. No one lost their head and made the stress worse.

I partly attribute the great response to us not meeting a deadline to how soon I raised the issue. This was a far better situation than if I had raised the issue a month before launch.

What was the outcome? We worked on ways to reduce scope on the project. We agreed to a plan that involved a soft launch around the time of the original deadline, even though it won't be feature complete.

Because I had communicated this reality so soon, we were able to come up with workable solutions that still meant we were going to deliver value to our stakeholders and users. And most crucially, that allowed time for clear communication to around our new approach.

If you have a concerns - raise that red flag early!