Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Defining DONE!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that one of the steps to driving tasks to “DONE” was to define what done is. So I wanted to grab a few moments  to take a deeper dive into what sounded like a simple activity.

When we're doing something, it is almost always for someone else, let's call them the client. When I'm doing something by myself, I ask the client is this what you mean by done? And then I ask

‘if I do it this way is that a good standard for you’?

I always ask this, even for simple tasks. If I'm having a conversation with somebody and I agree to do something very simple, I will still say at the end of the conversation:

"let me please just reflect back to you what I think my action items are for you - you want X done by this date, and if it's done like this then you will find that satisfactory. Is that correct?"

You'd be amazed at how much clarity comes out of something simple like that.

The other situation is when I'm doing something for the client, and I'm working with a team, here I do exactly the same thing. First, I confirm with the client what DONE is, and what an acceptable standard is. Second, I tell the team what we are doing, what done is, and what the acceptable standard is. Thirdly, I apportion the work that I want them to do, and  also tell them how it contributes to DONE. Finally, I asked them at the end of the conversation to reflect back to me what they are going to do for me, what DONE is, and what the acceptable standard is.

When I first started this practice, I was very nervous that it would make me appear unprofessional or a micromanager. In fact, I have had nothing but positive feedback from both customers and teammates. They enjoy the clarity. The clarity of knowing I know what they want, and what an acceptable level is; and also knowing when it needs to be done.

This is truly a WIN-WIN-WIN situation. Not only do you very rapidly get a reputation for being someone who delivers to a high standard of reliably, but you'll find that your teammates enjoy working with you because you exude a level of confident professionalism in your conversations.

So the next time you think about getting something done, make sure that you define DONE fully; you'll find it a lot easier to do (and by that I don't mean to start doing, but drive through to finished and DONE!).

Until next month, this is Tony Sherman the Implementation Rabbi and Impact Teams, hoping that in your work life there is nothing broken or missing.

1 comment:

  1. So true, Tony. Too often people haven't pictured the outcome they're looking for and then are disappointed in the random outcome they get. What is 'done' indeed!