When is Done, Done? ⏲

You’re probably noticing my emails are a bit different. I’m trying out a new provider. Let me know what you think about the new experience!

I’ve been thinking a lot about how many people, teams, and groups go about doing work, how they decide they are done, and some things that tend to go a little sideways.

Something that comes up a lot is that many groups move very quickly from an idea like wanting to eat a loaf of bread to the tasks like adding ingredients, mixing, kneading, proofing, and baking. In that subtle act of breaking things down, something strange happens.

The tasks become a substitute for the end. So people begin to say they are done when the tasks finish, but there may not be any bread to show for it.

This subtle act of substituting many parts for a single whole happens for us as people and jeopardizes companies’ programs all the time. A goal of making a product that earns a ton of money quickly gets broken down to parts, farmed out to groups, and managed all to their separate tasks. When I ask when we can see something working completely, they struggle to figure out they could ever show a working product. The reality is, they didn’t plan for the parts to become a whole in the same way they planned to pull it apart.

So when you’re out there working, take a little time to think about what done really is, and hold to it. It’s how you catch gaps, its how you reach a destination, and it’s how you can avoid tons of late surprises in any of your endeavors.