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Three Greens and All Locked Up

​​In flying parlance 'three greens and all locked up' used to be a good thing. The undercarriage was safely stowed away and the flight was proceeding safely…

In project-land this may not be the case.

Why?

Under-reporting of issues and risks!

Projects that consistently report 'three greens' may well be going nowhere – they could be completely locked up!

Whilst at a glance a set of status traffic lights that are all green may make people think that a project is going well, for us it is a warning sign.

In first aid, triage is taught on the basis of check out the quiet ones first; they may be suffocating or lacking blood. The noisier ones are generally less likely to have problems.

So it can be with projects. Mature PMs are likely to show where they have problem areas so that the governance structure can be used effectively to encourage the removal of barriers. Mature project owners and sponsors will be OK with honesty and transparency; it seems that the more mature they are, the more comfortable they are with admitting that not everything is perfect and that they might need to call for assistance with dealing with problems. If they have integrity then they will act with transparency.

If they have integrity then they will act with transparency…

Often we've heard it said 'We can't put risks and issues down in the logs; we've been told not to…' We've been told on Multi$M projects 'I don't want more than twenty risks…'

I don't want more than twenty risks…

We've seen too many projects that have reported green lights all the way through only to fail to deliver the outcomes or the deliverables, cost way too much or worse still be a public embarrassment.

So it might be that as we look at projects we should rethink the words 'locked up'; if we think 'going nowhere' then we may be right…

Projects that consistently report 'three greens' may well be going nowhere – they could be completely locked up!