April 16, 2015

When to thrash


Every new product or project goes through a period of thrashing. When there’s a lot of work buy not much progress. No one’s quite sure what they’re up to, how they, or why everything is taking so long.

At best, it’s the one step forward, two steps sideways phase. At worst, no steps forward, three steps back. The closer to the deadline, the more time, money and people it costs.

To be clear, breaking new ground always means wriggling along the way. Faster or slower, it’s a constant struggle to squeeze between gaps and crawl over difficult terrain.

Thrashing’s like this, times ten.

The time to thrash is at the beginning. There are fewer people and less vested interest. Big decisions, swinging from North to East and back again, choosing focus – everything is quicker, easier and way cheaper at the start. Six months and a full team later, change and uncertainty equals ramping costs, lost confidence and an inward facing focus. Late stage thrashing always points to soft decision making early on.

Thrash about to clarify, then move. Not the other way around.

Skippy Strategy: If the wheels are spinning without forward motion, you’re thrashing. Deal with it now or the deadlines will wash away. Get the team together, work it out.