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Steer away from the hidden CUSP between Success and Failure

In my last post, I described how a ‘black hole’ can consume a rapidly growing tech business.

At the epicentre is an ever-increasing workload that can crush the engineering team.

Early on, problems can be difficult to spot. There’s usually a good reason for that first late delivery.

A pattern emerges. Then comes a tipping point where corrective action is imperative.

Catch this sooner and it’s much easier to resolve. So, before we look at how to fix it, let’s consider the early warning signs.

I call these signs CUSP – Chaos–>Unpredictability–>Silence–>Pressure.

As demand grows, Engineering strives to work on many initiatives at once. Everything is priority and Chaos ensues. Engineers spend too much time ‘spinning plates’ rather than completing work. Workflow becomes entirely Unpredictable.

The team often turns inward with minimal external communication. Silence descends. Expected deliveries are delayed without warning. To regain control, frustrated management is tempted to apply Pressure to deliver something (without really understanding the underlying problems).

All totally counter-productive.

If you see any of these signs, it’s time to act.

Next time, we look at the first corrective steps that recover predictability.

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