The Power of Going Red


By Ben Johnson, CEO of BML Digital

Imagine this: your project hits a snag, and instead of spiralling into panic, you raise the red flag. But in this new paradigm, the red flag isn’t a symbol of failure; it’s a beacon for action. Going red means you now have the power to:

1. Crash Diaries: Need that critical meeting with a busy executive? Red status grants you priority access. Diaries get shuffled, and you have a direct line to the decision-makers who can unblock your path.

2. Access to Senior Leadership: When your project goes red, senior leadership steps in, not to micromanage, but to support. They bring their clout and resources to bear, ensuring that your project has the attention and assistance it needs to overcome challenges.

3. Mobilise the Troops: Red status means the cavalry is coming. Additional resources, whether it’s more hands on deck or specialised skills, are deployed to help you steer the project back to green.

4. Increased Visibility: A project in red gets more visibility across the organisation. This isn’t about shaming; it’s about transparency. Everyone is aware of the stakes, and this heightened awareness often leads to collaborative problem-solving and innovative solutions.

Red as a Strategic Tool

So how does one effectively use this newfound power of going red? Here are a few tips for project leaders:

1. Be Transparent: Clearly communicate the issues that have caused the project to go red. Transparency is key to getting the right support and resources.

2. Have a Plan: Don’t just raise the red flag without a plan. Outline the steps needed to get back to green and specify what support you require. This shows leadership that you’re proactive and focused on solutions.

3. Engage Stakeholders: Use red status to engage stakeholders more deeply. Their insights and contributions can be invaluable in navigating through tough times.

4. Leverage the Spotlight: With increased visibility, ensure that the extra attention is used constructively. Highlight not just the problems, but also the progress and successes as you work towards green.

From Red to Green: A Success Story

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical scenario. Project Phoenix, a software development initiative, hit a major roadblock when key personnel unexpectedly left the company. The project went red. Instead of descending into chaos, the project leader, Alex, leveraged the red status.

Alex immediately scheduled a meeting with senior leadership, where he laid out the challenges and presented a clear plan of action. With red status, Alex had the authority to bring in additional developers and temporarily increase the budget. Senior leadership provided strategic guidance and removed bureaucratic obstacles, enabling swift decision-making.

Within a few weeks, Project Phoenix was back on track. The team felt a renewed sense of purpose, knowing that they had the full backing of the organisation. The project soon moved from red to green, not just as a status update, but as a testament to the power of empowered leadership.


Red no longer needs to be a harbinger of doom in project management. By redefining red as an empowerment status, we can transform challenges into opportunities for growth, innovation, and success. So, the next time your project hits a rough patch, don’t fear going red. Embrace it, wield it, and watch how quickly you can turn red into green.


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