Posted by: kerrywills | September 18, 2015

Watermellon reporting

Status reporting with colors is a staple of Project Management and yet there is always so much attention an angst placed on what colors to report on. When is something yellow? What does yellow even mean? No one wants to show red. I believe that there is as much psychology involved in the color choice as there is fact – people are afraid of management yelling at them or being perceived as not having things under control (and therefore failing).

This fear of reporting bad news leads to a phenomenon known as “watermelon reporting” where a project is all red on inside but green on outside. Meaning a PM may report green when every metric shows (and the entire team believes) that it is in really bad shape.




For me, what matters is the ability to meet commitments and therefore the color shouldn’t matter – red doesn’t mean to blame or “get” anyone so much as an item that requires management attention to resolve. So in order to get to the truth and a culture of transparency, leaders need to not punish people for being red and PMs need to have the courage to report red when there are, indeed, problems.



  1. […] Kerry Wills explains the notion of “watermelon” status reporting: green on the outside, red on the inside. […]

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