Friday, May 1, 2009

Status updates for projects


If you are trying to discover how far along a person is with a particular project or job, instead of asking "what percentage complete are you?" (or "how far along are you?") ask the following:

How long have you spent on the project?

How much longer do you need?

By asking percentages, you are likely to get answers like 50% or 80% or 30%, which often have no relationship to where the project really is.

By asking times, while it is still a swag, it is a more realistic swag.

When someone says "two hours", resist the temptation to say "what did you do the other 6 hours?" or you are likely to get told "eight hours" next time! Instead, go to the second question. Track how long tasks take and you'll do a better job as you go on estimating who can get things done right and how long it will take.

I always think I can do projects much faster than those who work for me or in the group I am in. As an entrepreneur I often have to remember that no one is going to do the job the way I will do it. But I can be more systematic about assigning work and time it takes to get the job done right.

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