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But He Held Great Meetings

July 24, 2013

David was put in charge of the project. I was involved because of my background in messaging. But, I was sort of an invited guest. I wasn’t actually part of David’s team.

This gave me the opportunity to observe how David ran this massive project. And it became clear to me that he was never going to be able to deliver on our needs.

The problem was that our meetings would devote hours to the filtering question. We would meet once a week to discuss (again and again) how filtering was going to work. We’d draw convoluted diagrams of possible scenarios. We talked about potential cultural differences in what was acceptable filters in various countries.

With the amount of time we spent on filtering, I assumed David was having other meetings where he spent an equal amount of time on the 1001 details of such a massive project.


He wasn’t.

His philosophy was “How do you eat an elephant?” You’ve heard this one, right? You eat it one bite at a time and eventually you’ve eaten the elephant.

In some cases, that philosophy is a terrible idea. If you were the chef preparing the elephant and you spent 4 hours cooking just the rump, the rest of the elephant would spoil before you had a chance to eat it.

That’s what happened to David’s project. He was making no progress on shipping. (We had 16,000 locations to get to.) He was making no project on training. (Being a non-profit, our local tech help were volunteers who didn’t know a lot about computers.) There were countless other details that simply were not getting done.


David was eventually replaced by a more senior manager. He didn’t spend hours debating the filtering policy. We had a single meeting and then we moved on. The new manager understood that he was going to have to settle for “good enough” in some cases. In other cases he was going to have to acknowledge that we’d run into mistakes. He figured we could fix those as they arose rather than obsess about what MIGHT happen.

In short, the new manager got stuff done. Even if it wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t willing to sacrifice the good for the perfect.

At some point, you need to just start moving and figure you’ll discover some parts of your plan as you go.

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