The second day of the second project, and worries of second-project slump

So it’s day 2 of this run, and so far it’s been good.

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem.

There’s a phenomenon called “second project slump” (or the Second-system effect), whereby a project team, all chuffed from a successful first project, become complacent or simply overestimate how much they can do in the time given. It’s an effect I was wary of going into this sprint (in fact I made sure to mention it fairly early on day one so that it was on people’s minds), and now I’m even more worried that it could be an issue for us.

Which is a good thing, because we’re catching it early and can correct for it.

The problem in our case isn’t just that we’ve gone into our second project and that we ‘feel like we can do this’, but that we’re doing so in an office that’s about twice the size of the old one (I’d argue that its possibly too big, and/or that we haven’t arranged our desks correctly), that we’re missing a visible (and public-facing) ticking clock, and that we’ve given ourselves more time, all in one go.

The funny thing is that when we think about it rationally, none of these things actually make sense as reasons to be relaxed. We’ve gotten some publicity from our first game, but will likely have to work harder to get the same sort of response, let alone increase it. In addition, while we know we ‘can do this’, there’s a bunch of things we didn’t get done last time that are essential moving forward. The lack of a ticking clock doesn’t mean that the clock isn’t ticking. And ‘more time’ is a falsification when there’s so much more groundwork to do this time (just working out how to communicate to unity through flash is hard enough, and the time we’re working on this is being shared with all of the admin and business development work).

Yet the fact is that these environmental factors change the way we see this project, and the way we’re seeing it isn’t with the same pressure as before. Anurag, Saul and I have come into this run setting shorter-term milestones to help with this (the sprint we’re currently on is 2 days long), but we haven’t been talking about these enough with the team as a whole.

I was talking to my housemate about this today, and he made a very good point: that as the managers of the team, pressure is the responsibility of Anurag and I. Well, team, on behalf of us, the managers, let me just say that it’s on (like the break of that point in the day when the sun peeks its head over the horizon)!

So over the next few days, expect to see a revival of the ticking clock. Expect to see our office change somewhat (possibly not before the weekend). Expect to see a little more panic.

I hope.

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