Watermelon Reporting

This is what Wikipedia writes about the watermelon:

The Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.), family Cucurbitaceae) can be both the fruit and the plant of a vine-like (scrambler and trailer) plant originally from southern Africa, and is one of the most common types of melon. […] The watermelon fruit, loosely considered a type of melon (although not in the genus Cucumis), has a smooth exterior rind (green, yellow and sometimes white) and a juicy, sweet interior flesh (usually pink, but sometimes orange, yellow, red and sometimes green if not ripe).

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.), family Cucurbitaceae) can be both the fruit and the plant of a vine-like (scrambler and trailer) plant originally from southern Africa, and is one of the most common types of melon. This flowering plant produces a special type of fruit known by botanists as a pepo, a berry which has a thick rind (exocarp) and fleshy center (mesocarp and endocarp); pepos are derived from an inferior ovary, and are characteristic of the Cucurbitaceae. The watermelon fruit, loosely considered a type of melon (although not in the genus Cucumis), has a smooth exterior rind (green, yellow and sometimes white) and a juicy, sweet interior flesh (usually pink, but sometimes orange, yellow, red and sometimes green if not ripe).

For my metaphor, I’ll use the one with red flesh but orange and yellow would work too. I think most of us experienced the phenomenon when the project status is red but is getting greener and greener when climbing the management ladder. The project’s core is red but for the management it has a nice green paring, so it looks like a watermelon. This is why I call this phenomenon Watermelon Reporting. But why are we creating such reports and how can we avoid it?

Why?

The bearer of bad news already had a bad time in the ancient world. If he was lucky, they gave him the chop but in other cases they simply chopped his head of. This hasn’t changed until now but fortunately only in a figurative sense. Some bosses aren’t interested that there are problems with a project in their responsibility because if they know about it, they are in charge. So what do they do to avoid incurring the wrath of their boss ? They tweak the project status just a bit and the melon starts growing.

Another reason could be that nobody wants to be in the focus of management, thus they embellish the project status in the hope that everything turns for the better. And as we all know hope is the last to die.

In the end the result is the same.. Eventually the overripe melon bursts and there is no rescue for the project anymore.

How to avoid it?

The answer is easy: Transparency, transparency and transparency. If there is no way to hide the current status the watermelon can’t grow. Fortunately Scrum and other agile frameworks provide tools like burndown charts and backlogs to help the team with their transparency. But there are also tools like dashboards or kanban boards to do this job, but this will be the subject of one of my next blog posts.

Conclusion

The nuts and bolts of any project are transparency. If the project status is transparent, the watermelons can’t arise. If anybody is able to get the information, it will be difficult to hide something.

marc

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Tweets that mention Watermelon Reporting -- Topsy.com - 11. Februar 2011 Reply

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sybit agile Magazin, Marc Löffler. Marc Löffler said: Read about watermelon reporting in my latest blog post >> http://ow.ly/3UzHY #scrum #transparency #agile […]

Projektleiter – ein undankbarer Job - 29. Mai 2011 Reply

[…] Abteilungsleiter dann in den Plan passt. Das widerstrebt der Linienhierarchie häufig, vgl. auch “Watermelon Reporting” (Marc […]

7 Agile Sins - 15. Juni 2011 Reply

[…] love to close their eyes and ignore what’s happening around them (see also my article about watermelon reporting). If they know about a problem, they have to do something about it and are not able to blame […]

The Quality Of Software Development Cannot Be Measured « Pair Blog about OO-Programming - 22. Januar 2012 Reply

[…] serious problems sooner or later, but I’ve seen the opposite. This goes along the lines of watermelon reporting, which you may have experienced, […]

Edmonton PM - 29. Juni 2012 Reply

Marc Just wanted you to know that today I referenced Watermelon Reporting and this page on #PMChat – a world wide discussion on Project manager issues. (10 AM MDT June 29th 2012 for more info on #pmchat see http://bit.ly/GQkC6L) – Take Care!

Why Projects Fail – Working With Stakeholders A Dilbert Perspective :pduOTD – PDU Of The Day - 31. August 2012 Reply

[…] noticed the “Watermelon Reporting”* in the Testing session * Term coined by Marc Löffler […]

Zusammenfassung PMCamp 2012 « Agile Rescue - 13. November 2012 Reply

[…] Reporting-Methode “Wassermelonen-Reporting” nicht kennen. Ich selbst habe den Namen bei Marc Löffler kennen gelernt, soweit ich weiß hat er sie zuvor aus anderen uralten Quellen […]

Watermelon Reporting › Marc Löffler - Scrum, Kanban and other useful stuff - 23. Oktober 2015 Reply

[…] This blog post has been moved to marcloeffler.eu. […]

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