Getting Real: Saying “Done” Jason 15 Nov 2005

22 comments Latest by Brady

Decisions are temporary so make the call and move on. If decisions aren’t temporary it’s not the decision’s fault, it’s yours (or your organizations, or your red tape, or…).

Done. Start to think of it as a magical word. When you get to done it means something’s been accomplished. A decision has been made and you can move on. Done means you’re building momemtum.

But wait, what if you screw up and make the wrong call? It’s ok. This isn’t heart surgery, it’s a web app. As we keep saying, you’ll likely have to revisit features and ideas multiple times during the process anyway. No matter how much you plan you’re likely to get about half of it wrong anyway. So don’t do the “paralysis through analysis” thing. That only slows progress and saps morale.

Instead, value the importance of moving on and moving forward. Get in the rhythm of making decisions. Make a quick, simple call and then go back and change that decision if it doesn’t work out. Give yourself time boxes that force you to make up your mind within a set amount of time.

Accept that decisions are temporary. Accept that mistakes will happen and realize it’s no big deal as long as you can correct them quickly. Execute, build momentum, and move on.

22 comments (comments are closed)

Alex Bunardzic 15 Nov 05

Right about now… you’ve jumped it!

me. 15 Nov 05

I’d love to know how far you take these philosophies into your *real life* decision making process.

Alan Wunsche 15 Nov 05

Is this foreshadowing for an app that helps get decisions made? hmm

Brandon 15 Nov 05

Some good advice. As with any advice, there will always be a time when it’s not appropriate. But, for the most part, it’s excellent advice. You can’t linger over decisions forever, and keep second guessing yourself. In the end it just wastes time and causes you to be indecisive.

I try to make a decision and stick to it. Of course, sometimes it’s not always possible. Some decisions require a lot of planning and thought. But most everyday decisions just don’t.

rob 16 Nov 05

Regarding decisions — now hang on, let’s consider this a bit before making hasty moves that you might regret …


(before you bombard me with email stating the obvious, ensure you have read the smiley!)

Wyatt 16 Nov 05

Jumped it…

Maxwell 16 Nov 05

Whoa nelly, was that a line back there somewhere…

Maxwell 16 Nov 05

Whoa nelly, was that a shark back there somewhere…

Spike 16 Nov 05

These sort of posts feel a bit tired and very safe. Not saying anything new, not really offering any insight into an old subject. Maybe its time to do a U2 and “Dream it all up again”?

Andrew 16 Nov 05

Spike, THAT would be jumping the shark.

Staying on-brand and on-message is a smart thing to do. That’s not the same thing as keeping the status quo.

37signals continues to stay on target with their messaging and they back it up with consistent design philosphy in their products.

That’s a golden combination for furthering brand recognition.

bearskinrug 16 Nov 05

This was pretty helpful advice, and it validates my own feelings towards how to stay productive. I, for one, do appreciate the philosophical aspect of this blog…

Ray Irving 16 Nov 05

Agree with bearskinrug. Problem is I kick myself for not “thinking” like this earlier. So obvious really.

Keep reminding me though!

Sam 16 Nov 05

I actually like the Getting Real posts.

More Getting Real. Less analysis of French riots and defense of corporate behemoths.

Spike 16 Nov 05

“Spike, THAT would be jumping the shark.

Staying on-brand and on-message is a smart thing to do. That�s not the same thing as keeping the status quo.”

Of course. What I mean by ‘doing a U2’ is keeping the message the same, but repackaging it. Its not jumping the shark: if your audience is tired of it (I’m speaking very specifically about SvN here) then maybe its time for a rethink.

The software is fantastic in my opinion, I use it everywhere - but the feeling of expectation and delight at a new SvN post is fast fading, because they lack the same refreshing insight they once had.

Brian 16 Nov 05

I am tired of these types of articles that help you get things done, etc…

You read them, and 5 minutes later you forget everything you read.

Why do you have to make everything so technical.

Jeff 16 Nov 05

Decisions are not temporary because they create other situations that bring about their own decision and so on. I do however agree that good decisions aren’t necessarily deliberated and debated. There isn’t anything wrong with a decision process that restricts time are degree of deliberation - but to promote your idea merely because it is temporary is fake - not real.

Jeff 16 Nov 05

I immediately regret that post … man I wish it was temporary ;)

Skippy 16 Nov 05

Good advice. Back to my pickle jar.

Hal 16 Nov 05

There is some confusion between “deciding” and “declaring complete”. Deciding has to do with choosing among alternatives. Declaring complete — saying, “Done” — is what we say when we have finished what we have promised to do for someone. Both have consequences for others on our team.

When someone makes a choice others act on that choice no longer considering the alternatives abandoned. When doing design work keeping choices open allows the team to consider the value of the choice as a solution set. Alternatives can’t be held open for ever. But delaying a choice to consider downstream system-level performance generally produces better design.

Declaring complete should happen at the first opportunity, particularly on projects. Project work involves dependency among the participants. Often a performer knows first-level dependencies — my promise to create a widget allows another person to use that widget in their work. However, other team members will hear about the promises of performers and then base their promises on those listened. By saying, “I’m done” publicly and at the earliest moment we give the customer of the promise to assess that the work is complete and the whole team the best shot at keeping the project moving without delay or negative iteration.

Having said all that, we have to take Jason’s comments very seriously. 37signals is doing fine work. Basecamp, Backpack, and Whiteboard are demonstrations that they know quite a bit about getting projects done. Kudos to their team!

boombox 16 Nov 05

You really jumpedtheshark with this one.

Buckle up Jason!!!

Brady 16 Nov 05

amen to this