The UX of The Hump

In any project, the first step is to try and architect your solution.  How is this going to be done?  If you need to paint your house, just getting your supplies, choosing your colors and scheduling the work takes a significant portion of time.  Painting that first wall is the hump.  After that, you can have a clear view of how long the job will take.  Up until that point, it is much murkier.

Getting over the hump eliminates much of the uncertainty in the project.  Your productivity also increases after the hump.  Therefore, it is usually a great feeling.  However, sometimes it also causes a problem.  Your understanding of the risk in hitting your deadline also is clear after the hump.  See illustration below.

What do you do when you are over the hump and gaining momentum, yet still realize you are not going to make your deadline?  You only have three choices.

  1. Reduce Quality
  2. Move the Deadline
  3. Accomplish Less

Reduce Quality
Basically, hurry up and cut corners.  Paint a little sloppy.  Don’t linger on little details.  The upside is that you can get done quicker.  The downside is that you need to live with the lower quality for a long time and it’s expensive to fix later.

Move the Deadline
This is the most painful choice for many organizations because “promises have been made” and no one wants to slip the deadline.  However, I find that after the fact, the memory of what date you launched fades away and the only thing left is the work you did.  I suggest this option whenever possible.

Accomplish Less
Always difficult to do, but sometimes this is a great option.   This is where prioritization is a key ingredient in success.  Knowing what is mission critical and what is delay-able is important.

How did I get from the hump to the magic triangle?  Ahh, yes, you can see the fact you are late after getting over the hump?  Still, you get great productivity gains.  Maybe this illustration leaves us on a happier note.

Much better.  Charts should help the world be a happier place.  Don’t you agree?

One reply on “The UX of The Hump”

Once again Glen, great post. I’m currently in the early stages of a big project and it feels like the hump is so far away. I feel like I’m not making very much progress, wishing I could just jump in and code but knowing that it’s too early for that. In these cases of long initial prep time, I try and find mini-humps to trick me into feeling better about the progress rate 🙂

Whatya think?