When you cook a frog, if you were to ever do such a thing, it has been said that tossing them into hot water instantly results in seared frogs leaping about the kitchen, while gradually warming cool water results in frog soup—the frogs don’t notice the gradual temperature change, and they stay in the water until it’s too late.

For the record, I in no way condone the cooking of frogs to prove or disprove theories, and I acknowledge that some cultures enjoy dishes containing frog meat, so I also in no way villainize the cooking of frogs for food. I am completely neutral, albeit personally disgusted, on the whole frog cooking issue. That’s not the point.

When you first started your business, the water was cool. You had what you needed to get the job done and you were excited to see what lay ahead. But technology changed, the jobs shifted some, with some old tasks phased out by new advancements and the new techniques springing from them giving birth to new “industry standard” tasks. It didn’t happen all at once, and with each new challenge you found a way to meet it, but you haven’t noticed how much time is lost or how many hours are spent in work-arounds along the way. The water is getting hotter and you just keep swimming. Or maybe you have noticed, but you know what that means—it’s probably approaching “too late” by the time you can tell you’re in trouble.

Thankfully, literal deaths reported as a direct result of waiting for a loading screen are rare, so “too late” has a different meaning. It might mean too late to be competitive in your field and you lose a potential client. It might mean too late to make the next deadline. It might just mean too late to enjoy that ideal project flow where you aren’t yelling at each other at 9:00 PM the night before it’s due, taking a break to throw blame before realizing that blame doesn’t get things done, again. Whether it’s actual money or just sanity that you’re losing, if you are experiencing anything short of perfect, assess. The water might be hotter than you think, and in this field it’s possible to be “too late” over and over again before figuring it out, so a routine temperature check is prudent.

Don’t confuse “the way we’ve always done it” with “the way we should be doing it.” In fact, if you haven’t changed the way you’re doing things at least a little in the past two years, it’s highly likely you should. Project workflow, both the human and the tech sides, can be discussed with an engineer, who may be able to help you shake harmful habits you don’t even know you have and help you develop a culture of efficiency that’s open to and looking for positive change and not bogged down in outdated routines.

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