Have a lot of Open-ended Projects? Time to Close the Circle!

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Have a lot of Open-ended Projects? Time to Close the Circle!

Glass_BubblesDeveloping a product or service, or simply starting something new requires a lot of our time and energy. There are deadlines to be met (self-imposed or otherwise) and most everything else ends up on the back burner.

What typically happens is that we work flat out to complete the assignment and meet the deadlines; and then we breathe a huge sigh of relief when the job is done.

What we do next is telling; and in my experience that’s to park the project and move onto something else. Perhaps all related paperwork is ‘filed’ in someone’s bottom drawer; often in freehand note form which would be neither use nor ornament to the next person tasked with picking that up.

Here’s the trick that most people miss: they don’t make time to document the process or to note down the learning points; allowing them to make short work of this activity next time. I’ve seen the effects of that in virtually every organisation I’ve worked for; nothing written down and no obvious way to find out what the process is. People carry around information in their heads and it leaves through the back door when they move on.

The last thing anyone feels like doing when they’ve navigated through a difficult campaign is to spend more time writing it up – believe me I get it. Moving onto the next big priority seems the most impactful thing to do. So, imagine for a moment that you’re tasked with the same bill of work again in 6 months time (long enough to have forgotten some of the steps, short cuts and helpful tips). Now you’re faced with the same mountain to climb; perhaps with a little more confidence because you’ve delivered on this before. Nevertheless, the amount of time required is almost identical because you have to re-learn or familiarise yourself again with each step along the way.

Now imagine that at the first time of asking you had spent half a day closing the circle; writing up the process, filing any related papers in a logical place (so that you’re not the only person who could find them) and shredding or deleting all the superfluous information. Adding a summary of key learning points, including elements that could be done differently next time is particularly helpful and saves all concerned a lot of unnecessary time wasting.

There is also a certain satisfaction to be gained from completing an exercise and leaving it in good shape for the next person. It’s an even bigger win if that person is you because you get to complete the work in half the time and feel good about yourself in the process.

We all like to leave work with a job well done. Which circle could you close today?

This week’s link is to the Leadership & Management Stock-take the development of which inspired this post!

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