No one likes Red/Yellow/Green status bars – which is why they sometimes work and often fail.

Status lights are everywhere on reports. On-track? Show it as green. Having issues? If they are moderate put yellow, if they are serious put red. No one wants their area shown in red but surely it’s just a simple status that doesn’t mean much.

Much of business success and failure is built from human psychology. Get people to buy into what you are doing and you will have a lot of success. If people reject your direction and strategy you’ll quickly encounter failure. Actions (such as status reporting) can have a significant impact on the perception that people have on what is going on.

Red statuses are universally considered bad. They are often considered so bad that they are perceived as failure. In many business environments, red is used rarely so as to spare feelings and therefore anytime red is used it is a harsh outcome. If your goal is to actually drive an outcome based on the fear associated with Red then you may be taking the right action. However, if you are trying to give a general status without an associated

However, if you are trying to give a general status without an associated fear reaction you may actually be hurting future activities. People generally work to avoid negative consequences and Red can be seen as negative consequences while Green is not seen as a reward – it’s the expected level. R/Y/G can only be seen in a negative light, never positive (unless everything is green which means there likely is misreporting happening).


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