03 June 2009

Do -vs- Get

Here’s a question for all the program managers out there. When you’re developing a new system, is the focus on making sure we “do it right” or “get it right”?

 

Doing it right is all about compliance with the proscribed processes and best practices. Getting it right is all about delivering the product.

 

I contend it’s more important to GET it right than to DO it right.

 

(I found the phrases in an article by Roger Atkinson titled Project Management: cost, time and quality, two best guesses and a phenomenon, published in the 1999 International Journal of Project Management, vol 17, No 6)

9 comments:

Pete said...

I would say where I work there is a very strong desire to "get it right" but there is an equally strong belief that the only way to "get it right" is to "do it right".

You might be able to critique them but at least their heart is in the right place, and that's a start...

The Dan Ward said...

And I should point out the two aren't mutually exclusive. I like it when people want to do both... as long as Do is subordinate to Get.

Mark said...

Devil's advocate here... haven't you argued in the past that "doing it right" is most important? The distinction here is that your "right" is not the same as the traditional "right". I am referring to the "good failures" where even though perhaps a primary objective fell short, the behaviors of the team or individual were so darn FIST-y that you just have to call it a success...

On a related note, our annual performance review process here has recently been changed to explicitly include evaluation of how a person achieved their goals. The classic example is of the high-achiever who accomplishes a lot in the short term but leaves a wake of carnage in their path that ultimately hurts the organization. In think the fine line here is how to define the "right way" to work - for us, it is about focusing on customers, building teamwork, practicing simplicity and speed, etc. But this is not too far from putting process over results...

The Dan Ward said...

@Mark - Ah, good point, as always. I was really thinking of the process versus results focus, and the wrong-headed perspective that says "Sure, you succeeded wildly but we're taking 10 points off for not following the approved process and filing your forms in triplicate."

I'd also suggest that the "wake of carnage" is a bad result. If you delivered a good system by being a jerk and hurting the organization, that's not a good result. To put it another way, the product is not the only thing we produce. We also shape the environment around us.

So, getting it right includes delivering something AND maintaining relationships, communication and the dignity of the people around you. Doing it right means complying with regulations & policies.

At least, that's how I'd use those terms...

The Dan Ward said...

And can I just say that my brother Mark is really smart and insightful?

Mark said...

haha - I'll second that! ;)

Gabe said...

@ Mark, the "wake of carnage" you mention also has a value perspective. I recently worked in an org where a colleague "got stuff done." He was an operator type who could really distill the essence of a project to just what was needed to get it right and then he would do it. He got black-balled by the organization because their perspective was that he was ruining realthionships and trashing their dignity. However, their value system was wrapped around following all the processes and procedures and doing so to the hilt. They were offended that they couldn't force him into their value system of doing every last thing just exactly by the book. So they cried about being disrespected and they broke off the relationship. Sometimes carnage is the result of people being too tightly aligned with broken values.

Dick Field said...

Very good, Gabe! I have been there. Even not paying unearned homage to the arrogant leader can be seen as "destructive". I was once blacklisted by a VP who was upset because I didn't "bring him along" in a skunk works effort which otherwise was meeting the need "downrange" (or maybe I should say "downnetwork" - it was telecom). You can read more in "RPL Year 1, The Book".

Mark said...

Excellent points, all.

With apologies to President Clinton, I think when we talk of getting it right, it depends on what the definition of "it" is... Not to mention the obvious perspectives on what is "right".