Getting Things Out and Getting Things Done

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The difference between getting work out, and getting work done, is mostly a matter of attitude. And as a matter of attitude, after some amount of time, it can get dangerous.

Let’s first define what constitutes as getting things done versus getting things out. Imagine a client comes to you and asks for a working plan and approach for an upcoming product launch. If you’re looking to get things done, you’ll probably approach the task in a way that if you were to implement the working plan and the approach that you propose, it would most likely be the surest and best way to execute the product launch.

You’d speak to the key stakeholders, do your research on the budget, speak with trade partners and marketing partners, ask them for initial plans and estimates, do some research on the audience, ensure you have all the product information you need, have a short working session with the client and after a couple of weeks – you’d submit the working plan and the approach. With this approach, you’d be fairly confident that if asked to execute the launch, you could follow the plan.

If you’re looking to simply get things out, you’d look at how previous product launches were done, you’d get as much information as you can from the client on the product, put together a plan based on your best guess and estimates – primarily relying on experience and gut, and send it across to the client. With this approach, if you’re asked to execute the launch, your first reaction would be panic. You haven’t done your due diligence, you haven’t spoken to partners, you don’t have all the details that you need and you don’t have oversight over an exact budget.

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But you submitted a plan anyway, and for anyone looking at it – it would definitely qualify as a plan, just not a tangible or executable one.

That’s the difference between getting things done, and getting things out.

Some organisations are structured to simply get things done. They’re meticulous, well-oiled, have clearly defined objectives and processes and very seldom fall short. Most organisations are structured to work with a combination of getting things done, and getting things out. They have processes and rules in place, and often they’re followed and work is done. But at times, poor communication and management oversight causes deliverables to be simply “sent out” instead of being “done” in the traditional sense.

And then, you have some organisations that are built around simply getting things out. Teams cut corners, agree to extremely tight and unrealistic deadlines, don’t do their due diligence, and in the haste of being the first to get the client a proposal and securing a piece of business, or worse – pandering to requirement needs, simply get it out.

It’s a dangerous situation to be in. Plans and strategies that are laid out are rarely executable and employees will find themselves figuring it out as they go along, making changes to important parts of projects in the moment and potentially flirting with catastrophe at every stage of the project.

This problem with some organisations doesn’t stem from malice or lack of awareness, it’s primarily systemic. It’s an agreed upon way of working. It’s “the way things have always been done” or worse – it’s just the “nature” of the industry. The key here, really, is the attitude of employees.

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Are you simply going to accept that you need to get things out? Or are you going to push back to get things done? Are you going to be one of the few people that will go down the path of education in the industry or organisation, trying to inform counterparts and clients about the value in getting things done, versus getting them out? Will you be the one voice of sanity, or one of the many voices of insanity?

But truly, it comes down to one question. Are you happy to get things out? Or are you the kind of person that needs to get things done?

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