Path To Green

Green Soccer Boots

A Path To Green (PTG) is a clear, crisp, and complete statement describing a team’s plan for getting a project or task from red or yellow status to green.

Organizations that routinely deliver results on time hold individuals and teams accountable for delivering those results. Ensuring everyone is clear on the status of deliverables is key to this. More importantly, teams need to have discipline around how they move projects that are a bit off the rails (yellow), really off the rails (red), or back on rails (green). A Path to Green is a key element of this discipline.

I use the following taxonomy & lexicon for status:

  • GREEN : The deliverable is on track with risks that are understood and mitigated. 
  • YELLOW : The deliverable has encountered one or more serious unknowns or blockers, and for each, there is a clear Path to Green that should enable the project to hit the current date. 
  • RED : The deliverable has unknowns or blockers that either make it certain the date will be missed and/or there is not yet an agreed-on Path to Green. 

A Path To Green Must Include

  1. Clear identification of who (as in the name of a human being) is responsible for each action.
  2. Dates. Dates. Dates. For every action that will get the project back on track, there should be a date. It’s OK for a date to be a “date for a date”, but it’s NOT OK to not have dates. See Have a Plan (With Dates).
  3. Clarity on what the criteria are for determining the project is back to green.
  4. If the project is Yellow and trending Red, a clear statement on what criteria (with dates) will cause it to turn red. And a statement of what will then happen (e.g. “If we go Red we will have no choice but to change the due date”).


Path to Green:

  • Work with vendor to resolve issue.
  • Verify the problem in the field is fixed.

This is a poor example because

  1. There is no identification of WHO is responsible for each action.
  2. There are no dates that hold the WHO accountable.
  3. There is no clarity on the criteria that will result in the project being back on track.

Path to Green:

  1. Sally to get the fix from the vendor to Doug by noon, 04-Feb.
  2. Doug to deploy the fix to 10 beta sites by 05-Feb and report results no later than 12-Feb.
  3. If results are positive, Sally will update the project to Status to Green on 12-Feb.
  4. If negative results come back before or on 12-Feb, we will not have enough time for manufacturing and will have to slip the project launch date by at least two weeks to 01-Apr.

This is a good example because

  1. There is no ambiguity around WHO is doing the work and WHEN they will do it by.
  2. Clear criteria are provided for what getting back to Green means.
  3. Clear criteria are provided for what will happen if s*** continues to hit the fan.

Being diligent about the status of deliverables and getting engineering leaders to think in terms of great “Paths To Green” is key to better execution.

I’m available to work with your team to teach better project management tools and techniques like Path To Green. Learn more at

1 comment

  1. Great contribution and wise words. As a council I can comment that it is very important to choose the work team correctly, not only must they be talented, they must also be creative, responsible and disciplined, if everyone on the team is not, then the project manager must be a very patient person and he knew, to take the team on the right path, observing and identifying the individual qualities of each team member, to assign him the right task. My advice is that you do not choose the smartest team, choose the leader, the one who, although he does not have all the knowledge, if he can be heard with great attention by others, a leader will know what to do in each bump of the project, and if not He knows what to do to ask a person wiser than him.
    Thank you for contributing your knowledge Charlie.

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