Once I was assigned a project that had been abandoned to see if I could revive it and get it finished. The first part of the project was to make some decisions about which technology to use within the company I worked for. The next step was to implement the new technology. I went through a few months of analysis and decision making before ending up with a recommended solution. The support for my recommendation was positive; however, what happened next surprised me. It was expected that now that the decision regarding the solution had been finalized, the same project umbrella would be used for the implementation. I bucked the system and said no. I pushed back that the first project was to figure out the solution; it was an analysis task and it was finished. Then I argued we needed a completely separate project for the implementation. These were two very different goals with two very different paths towards accomplishment. The first part was complete; it was time to refocus and change the playing field for the second part.
What I realized a while back was that we, as people, need to win. We need to get to the finish line, close the book, or park the car — however you want to put it. We need closure. Looking at my example – by continuing the original project forever, we never showed our progress when in fact a LOT of work had been done! If we equate this type of thing to sports, it’s like running a race with no finish line or awarding of points. How do I know when to stop? How do we know who won? The importance of milestones and a clear destination for a team working on a goal is sometimes overlooked. If the goal is fairly simple, then intermediate points are not necessary. If the end result is complex, milestones along the way accomplish two things – prove progress to the business and the team as well as provide opportunities to re-evaluate the overall project and its progression.
In this fast-paced, always-busy world, we have a thousand thoughts and ideas every day. As long as a goal, task or project is not complete, it is something we have to think about and focus energy on. If we make a point of reaching an ending and closing that chapter of work, our minds and our focus can be tuned on the next thing ahead. Also, it feels good to say I’M DONE!
CEO, The Professional Development Team