Episode transcript The transcript is generated automatically by Podscribe, Sonix, Otter and other electronic transcription services.
Hello, everyone, welcome to the Five Minutes podcast.
Today, I like to talk to you about early warning systems, and I don't want to talk about natural disasters. Despite that, they are absolutely a perfect example of how these systems work. But early warning systems, every time we are managing a project or we are developing a product is something so critical. And it's something that most of the project leaders, most of the scrum masters, just don't think about it. They think about the threat, they think about the risks. They think that this can be delayed or that supplier can delay the delivery of a product. Or that validation that will come from someone testing a new functionality will not come on time. These are typical risks that people think about when they are thinking about uncertainty. However, for each of these risks we must identify Is there any early warning? Is there a way that I can see, or I can have some indication that that risk will become a reality before it becomes a reality? This is exactly the concept of early warning systems. Let me give you an example. The triangle is the warning triangle that every car has. So imagine you are driving on the road and you have a flat tire and you need to stop. What is one of the first things that you must do as a driver? Is to take this warning triangle and put it on the road, I would say maybe 10 feet, or maybe 20 feet, or maybe 30 feet, or maybe, I don't know, 30 meters or 90 100 feet, in someplace that would clearly indicate to another car that there is a car that is on the road and is blocking the road or blocking partially the road. And that triangle acts as an early warning. So the person, let's suppose now you are the driver driving and you see the triangle. What do you do? You immediately pay attention, reduce your speed, right? Because when you do that, you are reducing the chances that you have a collision with the car that is parked on the road. If you remove that triangle, you will only see the car probably too close to press the brakes and avoid a collision. The early warning acts exactly like that. So before you crash the car, something gives you a clear indication that there is a problem.
Second example if you use, for example, critical chain project management or what people call CCPM, and this concept is based on the critical chain concept, and it's based on the concept of buffers. You have the project buffer, you have the feeding buffer. I will not discuss that because this is not the topic of this episode, but how do you create early warning systems? So imagine that you have a buffer. You split this buffer into three parts, and if you use the first part, there is no warning, if you start using the second part and it's a yellow warning, if you start, the third part is a red warning. But look, you are not, for example, late yet. You are just using your reserves, your buffer. But based on the conception of your buffer, you are creating warnings. OK, you are still with some buffer, but now you should pay attention because these will become a big challenge for you. This is absolutely critical if you want to avoid big disasters in your project and some of them, they are quite interesting because it's very easy for you to see in many books talking about the critical chain buffer or a risk buffer. But there are several early warnings that are human warnings that are triggering some actions that if you know how to read human behaviour, you can use also as early warnings.
Let me give you an example. How do you see that your project is losing support, political support? It's exactly when you try to reach out to your sponsor and your sponsor, you know, does not have too much time to talk to you or to work with you, or you send an email and you don't have any response. Or you try to schedule a meeting and nobody show up. These are clear indicators that something is not working. For example, a supplier that does not answer your calls, you send an email and people don't answer. Most of the time they don't answer because they don't want to share information with you because they don't want to trigger you an early warning. Because they always think that they can solve the problem, or many times they don't want you to perceive the reality. And this is exactly why it's so important for you to have this. And you should do this if you use risk register, you should put this in your risk register if you would use any other model to map your risks. You can do the same. You need to say, OK, how I can understand the early warnings on this supplier or the early warnings, for example, that the revenue that I was planning to deliver with that sprint will not come! How I can see this? This is why, for example, people do small scale exercises or small scale implementations exactly to test and have early warning systems that will avoid them to invest a massive amount of money to produce something that will not deliver the value they expect. So always put it in your mind. If you don't have early warnings, you are only making it very, very special and the risks of you losing become extremely high and the damage will be there and the chances of your project to succeed will be very small.
Think always about that, and I hope you enjoy this podcast. See you next week with another Five Minutes podcast.