What is the earliest point the project could be finished?

"Commitment is a way of life. Committed organizations meet their large and their small commitments. When organizations are sloppy about their minor commitments, the people sense the lack of concern and the big ones are treated with less care." — Watts Humphrey

There are people I know that are almost always on time. In fact, if they are not there within 5 minutes of the agreed to time, I start to worry. There are other people that I am shocked if they are on time.

Why are so many executives shocked when they have a project that is late or in trouble? I ask this because those executives typically have most of their important projects late or in trouble.

There is one simple question that can reveal a lot about the projects that are you are funding. This question assumes that you have a success criteria defined that includes a committed finish date.

The question is "What is the earliest point the project could be finished?"

If the project lead, or anyone on the project, looks pale and says the earliest point it could finish is that committed date, you will know instantly that the project is in trouble. It is likely to be late and at the very least, it is going to be in trouble that you will need to solve.

This simple question is a great preventative weapon. When a team presents you a plan or even a plan status, ask that one question. The answer will tell you a lot. You will know if you have to dig deeper.

PS: I suggest grabbing (for free) my 100+ Questions That Lead Teams to Build Smart, Aggressive, Project Plans. Teams that provide good answers to these questions are smart, aggressive and committed.

PPS: I am working on Version 3 of this guide. Would you be willing to review, provide feedback, and perhaps provide more questions? If yes, just reply to this or send me an email to alan@oxseeker.net

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,
ALAN WILLETT