How to Actually Get Stuff Done


Ship it.

Those of you that know me, are regular readers of this GovLoop blog, or of my LinkedIn posts (thank you!) know that I am a fan of Seth Godin‘s work.  I first learned about his writing during a professional development workshop.  The facilitator recommended we check out his new book, “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable.”  I did.  The book arrived in a milk carton.  I knew something was different about this author!  One of his more recent books is about being able to ‘ship’ one’s work, and the many things that get in the way of that happening.

Planning vs. Doing

I have a marker board in my office.  It was there when I arrived at the agency, and appeared to have been used quite frequently by my predecessor to plan out the division’s work, etc.  I use it a lot too: each Monday morning I write a quote there.  That’s it.  The marker board isn’t used for planning anything.  One of my double-sided traits is that I don’t spend too much time planning.  One of my passions at work is implementing, and getting results (solving problems that change lives!).

Planning?  I don’t make a lot of time for planning.  I learned from former GE CEO Jack Welch, “Pick a general direction then implement like hell.”  That usually works for me.  Except when it doesn’t.  Then I’m in the middle of some project, with my boots all muddy, wondering why I didn’t see ‘that’ coming.  There is value in planning.  I also see a LOT of ideas, training, events, action plans – with little in the way of implemented work with results.  Somewhere there is a balance of planning and shipping the work.

We’ve let the world of planning, under the banner of strategy, consume too much of our time.  Ever bring a team together for some brainstorming, idea-gathering, strategic planning?  Most people love it.  Then you ask the team to create an action plan for the chosen idea(s).  A few hands volunteer.  Finally, who is going to execute the plan?  Faster than you can say those words, the conference room is empty.  Why?  Implementation is the hard work.  People are scared.

I am Scared

Experienced, inexperienced.  Big agency, small agency.  Public, non-public.  Doesn’t matter, we are all scared at some point in our day to say something is completed, final, ready to be shipped – and then ship it.  It may be a press release to the public, an executive briefing for a senior leader, the final report from a survey, a presentation for a conference, or a book report for grad school.  We all reach that moment when we have to say, “Yes, that’s it.”  And press the literal or figurative ‘send’ button that ships out our work.  That is scary!   Why?  We all have our reasons:  judgment by others, is it good enough, potential for mistakes, accountability, comfort zones, etc.  We all have our little fears that keep us from sharing our efforts and implementing good projects and plans.

2016:  The Year of “Done”!

As we move into a new calendar year, let’s see if we can ‘ship’ something every day, week, or month.  Your choice, but try and see how much work you can plan, create, and ship!  Fear be gone!

Here is a great resource to help you Ship It!

Joe Raasch is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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