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Give a Mouse a Cookie

“If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.
When you give him the milk, he’ll probably ask you for a straw.
When he’s finished, he’ll ask you for a napkin.

Scope Creep

Scope creep happens when, at the clients urging, a project’s completion requirements increase past the planned or contracted project requirements.

Sometimes, scope creep is harmless—it might manifest as an extra deliverable or two that, while cumbersome, doesn’t alter the project in any significant way.

But notable scope creep can undermine your project’s success by taking attention away from your project objectives.  This is because time spent on these added asks and deliverables is not spent on your project’s objectives.

If You Give a Mouse A Cookie is a perfect example of scope creep.

In the story, a little boy’s one act of generosity caused him a lot of trouble.

“If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.  When you give him milk, he’ll probably ask ………” And it goes on and on and on until the poor kid is completely exhausted trying to fulfill the never-ending requests of the demanding and pushy little mouse.

The mouse is the client, and the little boy is the business owner.

All the business owner wanted to do was, well, “give a mouse a cookie.” Instead, the aggressive client took advantage of the business owner with an endless list of additional demands beyond the business owner’s original intent.

How to Prevent Scope Creep

  1. Define the Scope of the Project – As a first step, ensure that you have a well-written scope document outlining the project’s deliverables. Before work begins, all stakeholders should review and approve this document.
  2. Set up Change Control Processes – Project managers must manage and regulate project changes to avoid scope creep. You should also have a risk management strategy that specifies how often the overall status of your project will be assessed.
  3. Project Requirements Should Be Well-documented – A requirements management plan should include all the information required to manage project requirements, such as monitoring and altering them.
  4. Create a Clear Project Schedule – By creating a comprehensive project schedule before you start working on your software, product, or service, you can ensure that everyone involved understands their role in the project and when they are expected to complete their tasks.

The Bible

Many readers of this blog are not in an industry where they must worry about scope creep.  But, interestingly, the best lesson about scope creep comes from a children’s book.  It is fascinating that we can learn the best lessons from the most unexpected sources.

And that is at the heart of the Bible.  God is always found in the most unanticipated ways and unexpected places.  And His lessons are often found in the most surprising stories.

The best and most relevant lessons are not found in church pews or classrooms.

They are found while living life, fighting the daily struggle, but with our eyes and ears open and tuned to God and His promises.

A baby born in a manger, Daniel in the lion’s den, Hosea with an unfaithful wife, Noah building an ark for 100 years, the Apostle Paul being the persecutor Saul, the stories go on and on.

They are told in the Bible in these unexpected ways because that is the same way we live life as sojourners in this world.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes.” – Romans 8:28 NIV.

As business leaders and entrepreneurs, we know we can find inspiration from almost anywhere.  So we must keep our eyes and ears open to learn new lessons.  And don’t forget that the best lessons come from the Word of God.