Because of how we naturally react to these colors, we tend to focus on red first, then yellow, then green.
We know what to do with red. Red means fix immediately, focus here, and pay attention. Red on revenue means focus on sales growth or start cutting costs.
Then, if there’s time, we attend to yellow. We also know what to do with yellow: tap the brakes, double check the data, revisit the plan, and make sure nothing is missing or awry. We know to focus on that area so it doesn’t turn red.
But what should we do with green? We rarely discuss green, except to acknowledge that it isn't yellow or red. Even though green is the goal, it gets ignored. This dismissal of green limits us. When we skip over green, we miss positive activities, insights, and opportunities.
I sat in a meeting where people took data that was green and turned it to yellow just in case it wasn't going to be green next week. It seems we’re afraid to reach the goal, because if we do, we could then fall from it. This begs the questions, Are we letting fear prevent us from reaching the goal, celebrating it, and sustaining success? Would we rather be skipped over than pushed to greater achievement?
In this example, instead of discussing what we could do with the business because it was so great, we discussed preventing it from going red by reinvesting in the area that was yellow, which may not have been the right place to invest energy. What might have happened, and how could we have benefitted, if we had instead invested our time, energy, and resources in taking advantage of green?