Wanted: More Radical Candor in IT Projects
Harvard Business Review’s “Ideacast” is one of my favorite podcasts. Last week’s episode on “Radical Candor” featuring author Kim Scott specifically resonated with me as a leader and contributor in IT and digital transformation projects. Radical Candor, or the idea that we should show each other that we “care personally” while also “challenging directly” seems simple but is not easy to implement. Specifically, I could think of four areas in IT projects, especially in large scale digital transformation projects, where I have found it difficult but absolutely necessary to practice Radical Candor:
1. When the project goal is not specific, measurable or clear enough.
2. When the project ROI may not be there but it seems “too far down the project plan” to talk about it.
3. When the project is delayed and shortcuts are being taken on product and/or performance testing.
4. When it’s time for “Go Live” but a full change management plan and/or key stakeholders are not yet aligned.
Successful Radical Candor in these situations always starts with showing that you care about delivering the project on time and with quality. If you don’t express an understanding of the same sense of urgency, as well as empathy for the stress of the team, but express concerns, you will demonstrate “Obnoxious Aggression.” Yet, if you keep your silence and don’t say anything, you can fall into “Ruinous Empathy” and the project can get off track.
The good news is with the right tools and some “Radical Candor,” projects with tremendously benefit from having the tough conversations upfront. At a minimum, no matter what project management methodology you are using, make sure you have a Project Charter and that you are revisiting it monthly.
Feel like your IT project could use some “Radical Candor?” You’re not alone! Check out the resources below. Need help with a specific project and getting it back on track? I’d love to talk to you. I would also love to hear from you: when in digital transformation projects do you find it critical to demonstrate “Radical Candor?