Look Forward (not back)

A core principle of fast teams is that they spend more time looking forward and less time looking back.


They know that pull-in opportunities are in the future and that looking back for fault or blame is a waste of time. When they do look back it is to learn from mistakes or poor estimates, so they can improve the remaining tasks in their schedule.

The second core idea is that they push ownership out to the work package level. These are clusters of work that integrate together and lead to a major customer focused milestone or project integration point. The core team manages the project and the program director manages the core team. Part of taking ownership for these work package owners is to look forward in their area and challenge their own assumptions;

  • Am I being to aggressive or not aggressive enough?

  • Have I missed anything?

  • Can I eliminate anything?

  • Can I do things differently or do things in parallel?

  • Where is risk highest? ...and

  • Have I put enough contingency time in?

The effective leaders LOOK FORWARD a regular basis, sometimes 2-3 times a month. The look forward windowcan be just a few weeks out or as far out as 2-3 months, depending on the type of project and the degree of knowns/unknowns.

Really advanced teams bring in outside "scrubbers" with subject matter expertise to provide critical insights and to challenge the assumptions the team has made. Defending against challenges is a great way to really grasp the work ahead and build team conviction.

They also conduct regular "deep dive" schedule reviews with the management team and use the six questions above as a guideline. Some have even structured their presentations around responses to each question.

The trick is to not get stuck looking back on a project, because if you drive by looking in the rearview mirror... you will eventually run into a wall.