Schedule Chicken

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quality issues the user interface team is afraid to report.

In a politically charged environment, just asking if a deliverable is "on schedule" is insufficient. Require team members to show progress on concrete intermediate deliverables. Be particularly sensitive to meaningless percentage-complete numbers such as "we're 95 percent done with the user interface." Instead, require team members to report progress and setbacks in full detail. For example, "All twelve of the new screens have been coded and eight have been through the first round of QA. We have uncovered six issues with the new screens: four cosmetic, one medium, and one show-stopper."

When collecting status from your people, it is important to keep them feeling as safe as possible. Treat schedule and budget issues as problems teams solve jointly, rather than blaming issues on the personal failings of the one member reporting the issue.

You need people to bring you the unvarnished truth, no matter how bad it is. In a dysfunctional environment, this means that you will have to take the heat for them. If you are unable to report the truth upward in your own organization, it is time to look for a new job.

About the author

Peter Clark's picture Peter Clark

Peter Clark has twenty years of experience in industrial automation. He currently manages teams working in materials handling, especially baggagehandling systems. A regular columnist on StickyMinds.com, Peter can be reached at pclark@jerviswebb.com.

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