How a project gets exponentially worse

I’ve come to accept that the greater number of people required to give their go ahead on a project, the more mediocre it gets. And not just in a linear fashion but exponentially worse. That’s because each person who approves makes the project more acceptable to themselves and the next person in the approval cue:

 “I don’t like the colour yellow and I know she doesn’t like purple so stick with what we have now.”

No one in the sequence ever aims to make the project better for the end user. Just, share an opinion and pass on the project to the next person in the queue.

What to seek instead

There are two things to find instead of approval. The first is guidance. It’s about making it better by helping you reframe and rethink. Consent and advice may sound like two sides of the same coin, but they couldn’t be more different. One is about handing over control to the next person, they other is about honest ownership. The best advice often comes from someone with no stakes in the project.


The second thing to seek out instead of approvals, especially if guidance is not available, is forgiveness. Ship your project and if the reasoning is well-founded, it will be a lot easier to justify postmortem.

What blocks us from either option isn’t a lack of resources or time. It’s fear. We are afraid that whatever the outcome is, it rests on our shoulders. Whether you seek a mentor or choose to take permission, the project’s success and failure are yours.

That’s where the real difference lies – neither option is about handing over the project.