Getting to “Done”

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Apr 29

It has become a lot harder to have that “accomplishment” feeling at work, hasn’t it?

It used to be that we could do our tasks, finish our project or complete the sale and know we were “done.” Yet, in today’s working environment, we are never “done.” We just move on to the next iteration of the work trying to improve it all again.

Never finished is built into our work

We “scrum” our fixing of software bugs and live in an “agile” framework. We update our processes to work better, then work them again to get another 1% productivity increase from it.

In “continuous improvement,” everything we do is repeated based on new information from our last changes. The output of our work is yet another process flow that needs training and implementation — and is dead in the water as soon as published.

The first iteration we do is a start, but the fifth iteration still needs some work. The tenth iteration is finally right where we want it and then management reviews it and offers more suggestions for change.

No, we are not done yet.

When the twentieth iteration of something happens, we get a new manager because of corporate churn and now all that work is up for review.

Think about your performance review: how great does it sound to say that you completed twenty iterations of a process for no improvement?

Purging our work is hard work

Even worse, those tasks and projects we have around us that are not complete or haven’t started are still there. Yet, in the constantly changing environment, we don’t clarify if we still need to do the unfinished tasks staring at us from our “to-do” lists.

Most people simply let the unfinished tasks slide in the face of updated priorities — yet the manager or other stakeholders often want the work completed. Then question you why this task didn’t get done.

How great does it look on your performance review when 80% of everything was worked but nothing is at 100% done?

The big picture and laser focus

As Cubicle Warriors, we continually need to have two perspectives:

  1. The higher levels of awareness about our work, priorities, and the willingness to change priorities, and,
  2. The ability to ask constantly whether work on unfinished tasks should be done or be taken off our list.

Without having this ability to shift focus from the big picture to the tactical task and back, we will often end frustrated in our work. How we are able to define “done” with us and our management team is a constant challenge, but one that we need to face.