The Slow Road To Positive Deviations

written by Don Albrecht on 2013-08-02

Everyone loves the big bang. There's that launch party that lives forever in office lore; the one where everyone on the dev team wore orange hard hats and the CEO led the toast. There's the slick poster from last years open enrollment campaign framed on the wall in HR. You've seen it before, it had a rabbit in a cast on it.

But, everyone also remembers the all the build up before the new hr system. They remember the assurances from corporate leadership that everything was going to be better when it launched. They felt the late nights and extra hours all everyone had to put in when the server couldn't handle the load and the screens were too cumbersome to use.

Do you remember the executives who supported the project? Did they come out ahead? Do you think anyone on the. Project team that spent the next 6 months burning the candle at both ends to fix the system and deliver on it's promise were rewarded for their efforts? We're any of them with the firm a year later?

Over the years, I've grown to prefer the little bangs: the small incremental wins that give your team encouragement, prove the value of the deliverable and reduce the cost of failure. I want my team to take big risks, I want us to shoot for the moon. I just want us to get there without casualties. I want us to make smaller bets that add up to the same big wins.

When I structure a project, these little wins are at the heart of the schedule. I find ways to put tools in the hands of small groups of users early and often. My goal isn't a big campaign and a big bang. My goal is a sense of inevitability. I want the snowball going down the mountain. To do this, I need cheerleaders from the smallest support roles to the corner offices across the organization. To do this I need a sequence of small wins.