Assume the Failure

When planning a project, one thing I do is to imagine failure and work backwards. I am trying to figure out a theoretical root cause that I can mitigate. That’s a common project management technique.

But, if the seeming root cause is external, I keep going.

Instead of: The project slipped because …

Team X didn’t deliver part Y by MM-DD

which is hard to control, I assume responsibility for the failure:

We didn’t start the code using part Y until MM-DD

Then, these follow:

  • We didn’t build a mock of part Y so we could start our work before it was delivered
  • We didn’t ask for part Y to be put in staging before it was finished
  • We didn’t publish a full timeline showing the dependency on part Y to team X

And so on. These are all things I can do something about.