Choosing a ripe watermelon is a bit of an art form. Many people swear by a tapping technique and so you often see folk holding a watermelon up to their ear while tapping it. This is an art form I have not mastered. However, there is great delight when you cut through the chosen watermelon and it is the perfect shade of red or yellow. Sometimes however, the middle is overripe, rotten, and not fit for consumption.
We often rate projects – quality and progress – using the red, yellow, and green. And we shame and berate managers who’s projects are red or yellow. And so what happens is not that the project quality or speed increases, but that managers get better at hiding problems. They turn red projects into watermelons – green on the outside, but rotten in the middle.
This is an unintentional and unhelpful outcome. No project manager sets out to have a project ‘go red’ and public shaming rarely helps. Perhaps instead of shame, we need to figure out together what is going wrong and what help is needed for project to get back on track.
Watermelons are nice to eat, but no one wants a watermelon project.
The choice is up to us.
HT Pam Rebecca