There’s a quote from Sir Francis Drake that rings very true for organisational life today “There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory.”
Stand still for a moment and think about the words “thoroughly finished”. How many projects are you involved in? How many things are there on your to do list? How many meetings on “innovation”, on “future strategy” on “employee satisfaction” on an endless list of “stuff”. Is any of it ever “thoroughly finished” before you have to move on to the next thing?
One of my ways of looking at the maturity of a management team is its ability to finish projects and also to give things up. Mature organisations do not keep starting projects they can never finish. They are also good at stopping things.
Now, the problem with stopping things is that it goes against what we see as successful behaviour. Starting new projects is exciting: whenever new CEOs are asked what they are going to achieve in their first 100 days they feel pressured to reel off a list of projects – after all, that is what heroic CEOs do. The Board feel comforted, the workforce is generally either horrified or just passively accept yet another list of what one company I worked in cynically called SOGIs (Senior Officers’ Good Ideas).
Any list of new projects has one of 4 underlying assumptions:
If you are lucky enough to work for a mature organisation then the answer will be 4.
If you are trying to work your way towards maturity here’s what you have to do:
The only way you find more time is to STOP doing other things.
Do any of these things ring true for you? I’d love to hear from you if they do.