This is what unrealistic planning does to execution.
Here’s the scenario:
Management adopts a project plan with unachievable goals given the time, features and resources.
The team begins in ignorance of “the plan”. Initial progress represents a sustainable pace.
Visible progress doesn’t match “the plan”. Management pressures the team. Short term, the red line gets steeper.
At this point, management revises the plan adjusting the start but retaining aggressive assumptions. “Now we know what we’re doing!”
Problem is, the productivity gain is not sustainable. The team is working extra hours and skipping necessary work to declare things done.
Problem is, the productivity gain is not real. Under stress the team works to increase the measure of value instead of value itself.
So productivity stalls. The team catches up on sleep, settles into the slog, and confronts thorny problems created by messy, incomplete and untested code.
Ultimately, the team produces less than had it maintained a sustainable pace.
Assuming the people and codebase aren’t hopeless, I added a period before the end where the team returns to sustainable pace. These are the tragic days when management gives up and before they cancel.
Another scenario – similar chart:
Management adopts a business plan with unachievable goals.
The product owner becomes risk averse or fool hearty, ignoring real opportunities that won’t hit impossible numbers.
The product drifts or lurches in bizarre directions and declines.