Seeing red

We all use colours in portfolio management to inform status, but do we really consider the behaviors that such colours drive?? The most common colour scheme is perhaps the colours used in Traffic Light or RAG status (red amber green) which is used to reflect the status of our programmes, projects, risks, benefits, finances and pretty much anything else.  Some organizations use a nice simple 3 point criteria  score of red amber or green, others like to complicate things a bit more and include a greeny-shade-of-amber and an ambery-shade-of-red….which I have to say is a pet hate of mine.

This blog isn’t about the criteria for colour coding status (that’s a whole other blog), its about my meandering thoughts on the varying behaviors that the colours red prompts in some portfolio delivery cultures.

I’ve worked in organizations that had a variety of reactions to seeing red blobs next to projects.  For example, one culture would do anything to prevent any form of red being attributed to the project, even to the point of falsifying status information.  In contrast another would allow red projects to carry on for months and leadership wouldn’t even raise their eyebrows.

I was having a very interesting discussion at a board meeting where we were discussing the cultural behaviors aligned to portfolio dashboard information and status reporting.  Some enlightened directors were discussing the importance of embedding the organisational values into portfolio delivery reporting, thus creating a culture where people feel comfortable with highlighting problems and reporting red if a project is in need of help.

I’m not too sure where it came from but I highlighted whilst red does represent danger, it also represents passion and therefore as a leadership team our ideal behavior should be to passionately work together and help when a project is red.

I got some nods and smiles …people like passion, passion is important.





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