Over on Five Whys Roy Osherove has an interesting post on how to find the hidden problems on your project.

Assuming you’re a new tech lead on a team, and everyone else is already up to speed, how do you find out the problem areas?

Roy suggests you get everyone together - including the stakeholders who stand to benefit (or be crucified) and ask one simple question:

“Imagine it’s the end of the project – 5 months from now. We’re standing in this same room, and the project has totally and utterly failed.

Why did it fail?”

Take notes.

The genius of this technique is that it captures the knowledge already held by the team.

It’s a bit like turning on a light after walking into a dark, unfamiliar room - even though you’re seeing everything for the first time, the furniture has been there all the time. And that elephant in the corner of the room? Now you see it too.


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September 2009