I was thinking about what costume I would wear for this year’s Halloween holiday when a clever idea came to me. Scope Creep – you know that really terrifying boogie monster that wreaks havoc on so many teams and organizations in Corporate America and around the world? It’s the little monster that lies dormant in our meetings and project teams just waiting to trick us into thinking that if we do more, take on more, expand the project, increase the budget, that it will actually be somehow good for us. And we fall for it nearly every time.
Sadly, this monster doesn’t just come out once a year at Halloween time. It shows its ugly face every day. It tries to lure us into its own dark place….Scope Creep Cave…from which there is no return.
What can we do about this scary situation? To answer that question, I turned to a friend and former client, Gail Kulas. I met Gail while teaching presentation training classes at the LEGO® Group. She was leading their Business Excellence team of consultants who were tasked with driving continuous improvement for this fast growing, creative giant and leader in the toy industry. Gail recently became an entrepreneur and has launched her own business, Leading to Unlock, LLC. Her consulting company specializes in team building and she provides her clients with distinctive communication and problem solving sessions, and creative learning methods to help build sustainable capabilities within their organization.
I think you will enjoy reading Gail’s solution to Scope Creep.
The Scope Creep: How to keep him out of your project
by Gail Kulas, Leading to Unlock LLC
It’s the eve of Halloween and you’ve just been assigned a new project – “To increase product sales.” You have a vision of a past project where The Scope Creep took hold and you can feel him trying to grab hold of this project too. You have a box full of tools to help drive him off. You select five to prevent him from taking hold in the first place, because you know the havoc he can cause the project if he is not thwarted immediately.
Warding off The Scope Creep:
- Create the Project Charter. The charter is the perfect tool to clearly outline the project scope, expected outcomes, timeline, resources, roles, and budget. It is the contract with the sponsor and roadmap for the project.
- Define Project Outcomes. Clearly defined outcomes are the basis for developing the meat of the charter. For example, “increase product sales” is too vague. A clear outcome such as “Increase the ‘widget product line’ by 20% and deliver benefits within 6 months”, is much more precise. It clearly articulates the deliverable and significantly narrows the scope of the project.
- Define Roles & Responsibilities. Defining the roles & responsibilities are essential components for team identity, ownership, communication and collaboration. Take the time to outline every role in the project and the responsibilities each position entails. For example:
- Sponsor – responsible for the project success, outcomes, budgets, resources;
- Project Manager – accountable for executing project plan;
- Subject Matter Experts (SME) – team members who have specific knowledge and process inputs for the project
- Decision Maker – person who has ultimate ‘veto’ power if project team is unable to make a decision
- Define Project Processes & Procedures. These are the guiding principles for the team. They outline escalation processes, decision making procedures, communication plans, and change management guidelines.
- Communicate & Celebrate! The development and execution of a comprehensive communication strategy builds trust and ownership within the organization. The execution plan should include communications on project progress and the incremental successes and should be communicated at all levels of the organization consistently and timely. This will help the project team identify resistance, mitigate change impacts and celebrate the team members for their contributions to the project.
Keep The Scope Creep Underground
Keep The Scope Creep underground by using a project charter, clearly define outcomes, roles & responsibilities, processes and procedures. Remember to communicate and celebrate success with your project team members, sponsor and the organization.
About the Author: Gail Kulas is the Founder & CEO of Leading to Unlock LLC, a woman owned consulting firm in CT which offers playful, fun and creative ways to creatively unlock people’s potential within organizations. Gail holds two master degrees, is a coach and mentor, and an adjunct professor at Bay Path University. Visit www.LeadingtoUnlock.com for additional information and upcoming events.