The early identification of risks can save time and avoid a lot of stress. However, it is often left too late which only leads to more problems. Asking more detailed questions and reserving separate blocks of time for completing reviews can help.
Have you ever been around toddlers or young kids as they are being potty trained? Here are few common scenarios:
- Before leaving the house you ask them if they need to go to to the toilet. The usual answer is “no.” Five minutes later when you’re in the car there’s an emergency cry from the back “I need to go pee pee!”
- They are so deeply involved in playing that they almost forget. It’s a parental duty to watch out for the jiggling dance and hopefully remind them in time
- As they get older they get better. They know themselves but still often wait until the last minute and only then run to the bathroom. This sometimes results in last second failures. They were oh so close but the result is still wet pants, even if they made it to the bathroom.
Here are the direct analogies for you as leader:
- Don’t believe the standard answer. Just asking yes-no questions regarding the status and risks for projects often gives you a “no” which can be the wrong answer. Dig deeper and ask for specifics.
- Take a step back from what you’re doing. It’s easy to get lost in the daily grind. You need to take a step back and think about the risks. Take a block of time now, review and think about the possible risks. Even if you are busy this will save time with escalations and problems later
- Keep asking questions. Even when people know what they’re doing, you still need to check in with them. Junior developers are not as good at seeing risks and problems. Keep up with the detailed questions, it could be it’s going well now but they may only see some problems too late. You want to avoid last minute project explosions.
So, you might not want to tell your team that you are starting their potty training 🙂 But it’s a good analogy to help keep your risks under control.