The Just One More Thing
31/01/23 01:21 Filed in: Industry
When a large project closes - one that's taken up a lot of your time - how do you feel about it?
Toward the end of 2022 I was finishing up a reasonably sized global project in Unified Comms - one that I'd been involved in (or around) since its inception. Looking back, I think earlier in 2022 I was feeling fairly burnt out by this project. I cover most timezones as I'm fortunate enough to be one of those people who doesn't sleep that much, so I'd happily pick up the things I knew others would find difficult to accommodate. There was also a lot of detailed - but very cool - stuff that had to be done. Most tasks required input from several areas, all with shared but different priorities. Nothing new there - that's just how mid to large businesses are, and knowing how to negotiate them is part of the experience.
You know that phase you go through - the stage where the cool stuff is done (The why, how, what with, what's our dangers/risks, how do we mitigate etc.) …you're now just focusing on finishing up the project control items, and those less interesting but yet part of your deliverable elements. They're important - I'm not suggesting anything else - but it's the clear up after a job well done. It doesn't feel quite as satisfying.
I've experienced this throughout my career, so have personal mechanisms to deal with it and keep things interesting. I do so by considering what I'm doing today and then thinking about how I could do it better. Also, I try and think how can I make this reusable. In this particular project I've ended up writing a few tools that I'll certainly be using elsewhere. I've a decent library of reusable stuff stretching all the way back to …Netware. Wow. Automated Netware 4.11 Server Deployment anyone? Even has login scripts. That's not really the point of this blog though.
I'd decided that when this project finished toward the end of the 2022 I was going to give myself a few months off. I don't mean a few months off doing nothing, I just mean stepping back from the usual level of effort and intensity to give myself some time to regroup, and to get ready for The Next Cool Thing. There's always more cool things.
It's the bit that happens after the project completion, when you've finished those line items. It's the post-project 'just one more thing'. I've realised how immensely rewarding it can be. I've always been aware of this, but never really given it a lot of thought - until now.
Those 'just one more thing' items tend to be advice and sometimes interesting left field bits of work. How would you deal with this? We have this weird issue any ideas? Hey, have you some pointers how we can get started with ….? Could you give us a hand with…?
I think I've worked out why I like that part of a project so much; it's because it makes you feel valued. Now, I'm sure many of you have already come to this conclusion however for people like me it's a little bit of a surprise. I've never really been one to need positive affirmations or feedback at work - I'm freelance after all, and you're judged by your work and I suppose by how much work you have. I prefer the delegation element of situational leadership rather than the supporting (as a team-worker) - tell me what you need, I'll get it done. Negative stuff of course feedback is welcome - it helps us work better, and it gets us both better results. I may even agree with you. If I'm honest about such things however, I am the worst critic of my own work. The struggle between 'perfect but not done' or 'done but not perfect' is real - and perhaps a subject for another day. I've re-written that sentence several times as it sounds like a humble-brag - it's genuinely not. I like things to be accurate. Anyone who has seen my dial-plans will understand this. There's 'works' and there's 'right'. Sometimes 'works' is enough.
Paradoxically I can find the 3 months or so post the closure of a larger project thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding. It's the 'just one more thing'.
That one more thing is 'we value your input'.
I've been involved with companies that are so invested in their feedback cycle and reviews that they don't often see that they could do all that stuff - and get better results - by working on their day to day, rather than formal reviews. That isn't my area however, so I'll not offer much of an opinion there. I'm sure those formal reviews have their place, I just think those same companies are missing a trick by thinking they're all there is.
Anyway, I'm getting to the end of January and I'm now looking forward to The Next Cool Thing. My couple of months off didn't really materialise although I did get a decent amount of down-time to regroup. I even got half-way through sorting out the hallway cupboard.