Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The meaning of "Done"

I face this Done – done situation very frequently… So what sort of workarounds a PM should have with their team members who has their own definitions for “Done”

I found this article today and I couldn’t stop myself from stealing it.. Its that familiar to me :)

Barbara was a programmer on my team responsible for building a utility for our project. This utility displayed a scanned image on a screen, allowed users to define regions on the image, captured the corresponding coordinates, manipulated the regions, and stored the new image in a special format. An adjacent project needed an early version of the utility and we agreed to provide them with a "prototype", which was expected to be functional, ugly, Spartan, and have minimal error checking.

On a Monday, I asked Barbara when the prototype would be finished, and she told me it would be done on Friday. At the end of the week, I went to Barbara and asked, "Are you done with the prototype?"

“I'm done,” she replied.

“Great!” I said, extending my hand. “Give it to me.

“Well…” demurred Barbara sheepishly, “I'm not DONE-done.”

“DONE-done?” I inquired. I'd never heard that one before.

“I built the prototype and tested it using simple test data,” she said, “but I haven't yet integrated the more complex transforms. Integrating those and testing will take another two days.”

“I'll see you Tuesday then,” I said. DONE-done. Ha! What a kidder.

On Tuesday, I stopped by Barbara’s cube. With an almost straight face, I inquired, “Hey Barb, are you … DONE-done?” I couldn't help but chuckle.

“I'm DONE-done,” she beamed. “It works great.”

“Wonderful!” I said, extending my hand. “Give me the disk.”

“Well,” Barbara hesitated, “I'm not DONE-done-done.”

The humor drained from the situation. In my mind, I began hearing Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony”: DONE-DONE-DONE, DONE. DONE-DONE-DONE, DONE.

I got grumpy. “What do you mean you're not DONE-done-done?”

“Well,” she replied earnestly, “I built the prototype and tested it successfully with the transforms. But I haven't built the readme file that explains the subdirectory structure, or copied the pieces and parts to a diskette. I won't be DONE-done-done until tomorrow.”

I was angry and disappointed. “What time tomorrow?” I grumbled. We agreed that I would stop by at 4:00 p.m. to pick up the diskette.

I went to complain to the senior project manager, Pat, about what an unreliable and equivocating person Barbara was--to whine about Done, DONE-done, and DONE-done-done and explain why I was surprised by the delay. I expected sympathy and strategies for disciplining Barbara, but Pat gently interrupted me and said, “Why are you frustrated with Barbara? You screwed up.”

“Me?” I said. “What did I do?”

“Unclear completion criteria,” Pat said. “If you had been clearer about what ‘done’ meant, you likely would have gotten a clearer answer to your original request for an estimate and probably even a straight answer when you asked about progress.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Isn't ‘Done with the prototype’ clear enough?”

“Apparently not,” smiled Pat. “You say she wasn't done Friday--how could you tell?”

“Because if she had been done, she would have been able to provide me with a diskette of the code and information that I needed for the other project to run the utility,” I said, still not getting it.

“Then that’s what you should have asked for when you defined the task,” Pat said. “You might have said, ‘Barbara, I need to send a diskette to the other team so that they can use the prototype. What will it take for you to build and test the utility and put it and any necessary files and instructions on a diskette for me so that I can pass it to them?’ It might not have gotten you what you wanted, but it would have clarified your goals earlier and improved communication.”

Pat had made her point.

Since then, with practice, I've gotten better at defining completion criteria and recognizing when “done” is not clearly specified. I've also discovered that poor communication about completion criteria is often the root cause of disagreements related to task definition, project definition, and whether or not requirements have been satisfied. Take a moment and think about a current task you are doing or someone is doing for you. Now answer these questions:

  • How will you know the task is done?
  • What work products will the task create?
  • What standards apply to the work products to assure they meet requirements?
  • Where will those work products be when the task is complete?

If you and someone else familiar with the task answered those questions independently, would you come up with similar answers? If not, prepare to discuss DONE-done.

Getting good at defining completion criteria isn't magic, though it sometimes seems that way. Pulling a rabbit from a hat is applause-worthy, but asking, “How will we know this is complete?” can save a project.

About the Author Payson Hall is a consulting systems engineer and project manager from Catalysis Group, Inc. in Sacramento. Weekly Column From 03/13/2006


Chattanooga TN on 12:44 AM said...

Very interesting reading. Thanks.


Chattanooga TN

Jodi on 8:12 AM said...

Many people know the importance of self confidence and try to boost their own by using many different personal development models. Self confidence to most people is the ability to feel at ease in most situations but low self confidence in many areas may be due to a lack of self esteem. Low self esteem takes a more subtle form that low self confidence. So if you are tired of feeling not good enough, afraid of moving towards your desires and goals, feel that no matter what you do it is just never good enough, then your self esteem could do with a boost.

Every day we make decisions based on our level of self-esteem. We also exhibit that level of self esteem to those around us through our behaviour. 90% of all communication is non-verbal - it is not what you say but ho you say it that matters! Your body language, tonality and facial gestures can all tell a completely different story to your words. It is our behaviour which influences others and people react to us by reading our non-verbal communications. Have you ever met someone you just didn't like although on the surface they seemed polite and courteous, or you met someone who seemed to speak confidently yet you knew they were really frightened underneath and just displaying bravado?

Parental and peer influences play a major part in moulding our level of self-esteem when we are children and in our early years of adolescence. The opinions of the people closest to us and how they reacted to us as individuals or part of the group was a dominant factor in the processes involved in forming our self esteem.

As adults we tend to perpetuate these beliefs about ourselves and in the vast majority of cases they are ridiculously erroneous. It is time to re-evaluate our opinion of ourselves and come to some new conclusions about these old belief patterns.

Ask yourself some serious question:
Is your long-held view about yourself accurate? Do we respect the sources from which we derived these beliefs? Most of the negative feedback we bought into as we were growing up actually came from people we have little or no respect for and as adults we would probably laugh their comments away! Yet the damage to your self esteem was done when you were very young and you still carry it with you to this day.

Is it possible that even those people you respected, who influenced your self-worth, were wrong? Perhaps they had low self esteem also.

As adults we have the opportunity to reshape our self-esteem. Try to judge accurately the feedback you receive from people you respect. This process will allow you to deepen your understanding of yourself and expand your self-image. It will also show you were you actually need to change things about yourself and were you don't. Many people are striving to better themselves in areas where they are just fine or actually excelling and it is only because they have an inaccurate picture of themselves in their minds due to low self esteem!

Setting small goals and achieving them will greatly boost your self-esteem. Identify your real weakness and strengths and begin a training program to better your inter-personal or professional skills. This will support you in your future big life goals and boost your self-esteem and self confidence to high levels you didn't existed!

Learn to recognise what makes you feel good about yourself and do more of it. Everyone has certain things that they do which makes them feel worthwhile but people with low self esteem tend to belittle these feelings or ignore them.

Take inventory of all the things that you have already accomplished in your life no matter how small they may seem. Recognise that you have made achievements in your life and remember all the positive things that you have done for yourself and others. Take a note of your failures and don't make excuses like "I'm just not good enough" or "I just knew that would happen to me", analyse the situation and prepare yourself better for the next time. If someone else created success, regardless of the obstacles, then you are capable of doing the same! Remember everyone has different strengths and weakness so do not judge your own performance against that of another just use them as inspiration and know that what one human being has achieved so can another!

Surround yourself with people who respect you and want what is best for you - people who are honest about your strengths and will help you work through your weakness. Give the same level of support to them!

Avoid people who continually undermine you or make you feel small. These people are just displaying very low self esteem. As your own self esteem grows you will find that you are no longer intimidated by another's self confidence or success and you can actually be joyful for them! Do things you love to do and that make you happy. A truly happy person never has low self esteem they are too busy enjoying life! By getting busy living your life with passion and joy you will not be able to be self-consciousness.

If you find yourself feeling self-conscious in any situation focus on the fact that others can tell and many of them will be feeling the same. Be honest. People respond to someone better if they openly say "To tell you the truth I'm a bit nervous" rather than displaying bravo or fake confidence that they can see right through. Their reactions to you, will show your mind at a deep level, that there was actually nothing to be frightened of and everything is great. If someone reacts to this negatively they are just displaying low self esteem and very quickly you will find others noticing this! Really listen to people when they talk to you instead of running through all the negative things that could happen in your head or focusing on your lack of confidence. People respond to someone who is truly with them in the moment..

Breath deeply and slow down. Don't rush to do things.

Stop the negative talk! 'I'm no good at that' or "I couldn't possibly do that" are affirmations that support your lack of self esteem. Instead say "I have never done that before but I am willing to try" or "how best can I do that?". Which leads us to the last point - the quality of the questions you ask yourself s very important.
When you ask a question it almost always has a preposition in it. For example, "How did I mess that up?" presumes that something was messed up, a better way of phrasing the question would be "what way can I fix this quickly?", as this presumes you can and will fix it. Or "How am I ever going to reach my goal?" could be rephrased as "what way will lead me to my goal quicker" presumes that you are going to reach your goal! Get the picture? Change the quality of your questions and your results will change!

Practise these techniques and watch your self esteem rise day by day. hypnosis


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