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Martha Stewart Need Not Apply

Stoplight_greenWhen documenting the status of a project, one of the hardest things to do is determine the color status of the project.  For simplicity's sake, the three obvious color status choices are red, yellow, and green.

Red essentially means that the project is in chaos mode.  No progress can be made until pressing issues are handled.

Yellow denotes a cautionary mode for the project.  It means that some elements are derailed but that the project (with the right attention) can move forward.

Green refers to a project that is in a controlled mode.  All of the critical elements are firing on all cylinders and need little outside intervention.

I've had people try to get very creative on project status.  It is as if three colors are not enough.  Here are statements I've from actual project managers:

  • "We're green but with the slightest tinge of yellow.  Let's report the color as lime."
  • "The project is essentially red, but I still feel that we can pull it out.  Since you won't let us be orange, can we choose a more reddish color like pumpkin?"
  • "There are elements of all three.  Let's call it a stoplight swirl."

While all three help generate the appetite, none truly conveys to a reader where the project is.  One of the key skills of project managers is decision-making.  And if a project manager cannot decide on one of three colors, one really must wonder if that project manager is ready for the true rigors of project management.

MarthaOf course, my favorite is the project manager who was expounding on exactly how red his project was, just as the fire station next door received an alarm and sirens began blaring.  I congratulated him on his use of sound effects.

So, based on the links provided, do you feel comfortable reporting your project as red, yellow, or green?  More importantly, do you know what to DO when you see a project reported with such a status?

Carpe Factum!

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