Repeated studies have shown that the decisions made early in a project have more impact than those made later. This makes sense. Think about a professional football team. The decision of what players to recruit, what type of offense and defense to run, the coaching staff composition, how to practice, and who to start makes a much greater impact on the overall season than that one play call even at a critical moment in a critical game.
Your early project decisions create the greatest ripples! Because you don’t have a crystal ball, many of these decisions have to be based on unproven assumptions. Unfortunately, some of those assumptions might not be readily apparent. One way to focus on making the right kind of ripples is to clearly identify all the critical assumptions built into your decision and seek to validate or invalidate those assumptions as rapidly as possible. You won’t be able to do this immediately in some cases. But, by tracking them and having a plan, you can find out sooner, rather than later, whether you made the right decision.