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Got ya thinkin’ there, didn’t I?
I know you have one …
… a scope creep worst-workday-ever disaster story.
Maybe the one where a bunch of “Could you just…?” add-ons beckoned.
And (being the nice, accommodating person you are) you listened.
You found yourself out on a nasty, gnarly limb, and your project time was g-o-n-e.
(I was the second person on the third branch. Did you see me? I admire birds a lot more, now.)
We will never forget those moments. If they were rreeaallyy revolting, others won’t forget them, either.
My scope creep debacle was 100% avoidable.
It was my worst editing day … ever.
It was all on me. No one else was to blame.
And it was all because I got. in. a. hurry.
I bet you’ve had an “Are you kidding me?!” moment at work, too.
After hearing my saga, I hope you will leave a comment.
For three reasons:
• We’ll have examples from different industries.
• Misery really does love company.
• I won’t be the only person sharing (ha!).
What do you think I might point to as my most memorable scope creep moment?
It was the day I played the hero instead of saying,
“Whoa! Stop! This is a new project! Time out.”
I call it …
… the ‘are’ day
I was the editor on a difficult book project and was close to finishing it … early!
‘Me time’ was on the horizon, and I could not wait to relax. Uh huh. Let’s calculate this works-in-any-industry math problem:
[Ahead of schedule] + [Anxious to finish] = Disaster-in-the-making
WHAT was I thinking?
Suddenly – after rejecting the idea at project s.t.a.r.t. – the client wanted the book changed from passive to active voice. (Remember ‘voice’ from 10th grade English?)
I was at the end of the editing process.
This created a new project.
But, I breezed right past that part.
Lesson #1: Don’t ignore project scope creep
STOP working and initiate the
approved change control process.
Additional work = additional time + $$
In your industry, scope creep may rear its ugly head as a truck fender’s redesign.
Or your client requests a ‘minor change’ to a program you’re developing.
For me, it could be the book in this story or helping a client update their website for better SEO.
Don’t follow my example!
I hope you never pull the – shall I just go ahead and say it? – idiotic stunt I did.
It started out OK
Before heading out to lunch, I began a book-wide search for the first item on my passive voice list: ‘are.’ I needed to find them and update those phrases.
In my experience, ‘are’ is the most-often-used passive voice word.
I was working on a training manual.
Items even hinting at being passive voice …
“You are going to want to flex your knee.”
… would become active, very short:
“Flex your knee.”
“I’ve got this.”
The search box told me there were over 400 ‘are’s.
My next step was replacing them with red text (a proofer’s quick-visual-overview trick).
I tapped the “Replace All” button and headed out the door to lunch.
“OK … what’s goin’ on?”
After soup-n-munchies, I began noticing weird sentences.
There were no ‘are’s in the book.
In my hurry to get to lunch, I didn’t change every word ‘are’ to red text.
I deleted every occurrence of these three letters in sequence: ‘are’
[‘Area’] – [are] = ‘a’
[‘Arena’] – [are] = ‘na’
[‘You are almost ready’] – [are] = [‘You almost ready’]
(lost a word, gained a space)
Lesson #2: Carefully plan your break times
Don’t let a frazzled brain or growling tummy
make you impatient. Plan your breaks wisely.
Quark would cringe …
You’re thinking, “Heck, Kathie, why didn’t you just ‘undo’ the change?”
Well … that’s some other bad stuff.
I couldn’t. It wasn’t my last edit.
I was about a half-hour in, doing some other stuff to the file.
Oh. Uh … oh.
My project was easier to fix than your fender redesign or programming redirection.
But, there would be no profit in it.
(For Star Trek fans) Quark – or any other Ferengi – would be horrified!
It took four days to fix this and get through the other passive voice indicators.
All that wasted time because I:
• Got in a hurry.
• Ignored the need to rebid the work.
• Thought I was invincible.
If we don’t slow down and sweat the small stuff, it can suddenly become v-e-r-y big stuff (no matter what the cute saying declares).
Whether we manufacture the best automobile engine in the world or assess websites for a living, our grandmothers were right:
“Haste makes waste.”
Thanks, Gramma. Maybe I’ll remember next time.
And while I’m at it, maybe I’ll follow. my. processes.
There’s a novel idea ….
Join the Conversation: Tell us your scope creep horror story.
- Looking back: were the disaster signs clear, but you ignored them?
- How did you bounce back?
- What could you have done differently to prevent the problem(s)?
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Let’s all learn from each other!
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