Chapter 9: Paint Your Environment Part 7
In the last post, Sabina said she “felt like a failure because the forecast was so off.” I understand where she is coming from. I have twice managed a product that was selling below the forecast. The first time I felt terrible, but the second time I was annoyed but unemotional. The difference? By the second time I had busted my corporate idol, meaning that my personal identity was not longer tied up with the company. I was clear in my mind that the most important things to me were my health and the people in my life. And, I had a strong community that I knew would be there for me whatever happened at work. Together, this gave me freedom to make different choices when “stuff happens” at work.
Let’s revisit Sabina’s situation, and look more deeply to see what she might have done differently. She felt badly because the revenue was coming in at only 25% of the forecast. Looking at it objectively, the forecast had no chance – the team had cut out 2/3 of the features prior to launch, and the forecast was not changed because she was afraid the project would be canceled.
In circumstances like this, I recommend a two scenario forecast, like the one at the right.
Let me explain how this would have helped in Sabina’s situation. The red is the base case, and the blue includes the additional features. If Sabina had presented a dual forecast, the framework would have been set for the lower initial growth, and the need for continued investment to meet the desired revenue numbers in year 3 and beyond. Sabina’s fear that the project would be canceled held her back.
How would the company have reacted? Maybe the project would have been canceled as she feared, or maybe the company would have accepted the lower forecast and the need for future investment. In either case, the situation would have been less stressful than the slow withering on the vine that comes from the stigma of an underperforming product.
In addition, according to Sabina, the people who got ahead at her company were the “brown nosers,” which certainly wasn’t her. Could she have been risking her career by speaking out? Maybe, but unless she was willing to brown nose her career advancement was probably limited at that company anyway. Today Sabina has advanced in her career considerably, at another company.