Some staring into the future is required of all of us. But if all you see is what you hope for, that is not just dumb; it’s a culture killer. Consider: How would you respond to this kind of query from your client or your boss?

“You started out thinking we had four months worth of work to get this completely finished. After the first month you needed an extra week to get where you needed to be at month’s end. Same thing happened in month two: you needed an extra week. So, now you are 2.5 months in. Please give me an estimate of when you will deliver.”

If you say, “Unless we change something, we’re looking at five months”, then you are showing perfectly reasonable, adult behavior.

If you say, “We can recover. We’ll be done in four months.” Your unspoken rule is:

Never admit trouble until there is no remaining way to pretend it won’t happen.

If you say, “We’re over the rough patch. We’ll be done in four and a half months.” Your unspoken rule is:

Be optimistic! Bad stuff that happened in the past will never happen again.

The “staring into the future” culture killer causes you grief in the long run and causes those around you grief right away. It makes it clear that the team’s work is becoming divorced from reality.

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