What’s your nasty scope creep story?

by | Jul 3, 2019

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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.

Chime in!

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!).

Costly mistake

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.

Beware of scope creep.

Beware of scope creep.

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’

Oh, yeah.

[‘Area’] – [are] = ‘a’

[‘Arena’] – [are] = ‘na’

[‘You are almost ready’] – [are] = [‘You  almost ready’]

(lost a word, gained a space)

Don't let scope creep stalk YOU!

Don’t let scope creep stalk YOU!

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.

Slow. down.

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)?

Share this post, subscribe so you won’t miss next month’s offering, and join the conversation in the comments section.

Let’s all learn from each other!

Contact me if you have questions about this post, or need help non-overwhelming a project. I’m here for ya! 😎



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Kathie York, CSQE
Queen of Non-Overwhelm
Goals Accountability Instructor

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