June  2014     Edition 103
"Finished" vs. "Done"

"Are we done yet?"

Itís a common question and a great desire to achieve.  We like to check things off our to-do list.    In order to answer "Are we done?" we need to understand the difference between "finished" and "done".

We define "Finished"

as completing a task, such as sending an email, creating a business plan, calling on a customer, creating a budget, hiring a employee.  These all have definitive deliverables, and when you deliver them, you are finished.

We define "Done"

as no longer having to think about what has been finished.  "Done" means that youíre not only finished with the task at hand, but finished with all the ramifications and downstream issues resulting from the task.

For example;

Just because you finished sending an email, doesnít mean you donít have to think about the ramifications of that email, or answer a question.  You may have finished the business plan, but youíll certainly have lots to do and think about as you execute the plan. 

You might plan the route to drive from one place to another before you actually get in your car.  This doesnít mean you wonít think about and perhaps alter the route as you start driving.  Certain conditions may exist that call for thinking, such as traffic, weather, and road construction.   Are you finished with the planning of the route?  Yes.  Are you done?  No, not until you reach your final destination.

When you go bowling, and you "finish" the game, return your shoes, stop talking about how great you did, and respond to all the facebook likeís of your experience, then youíre done (unless youíve pulled a muscle, in which case youíre not done until that heals).

When you trade in an old computer for a new one, initially youíre finished when you get your new machine, install all the apps and discard the old one.  Youíre not quite done yet.  Youíll need to work with the new computer for awhile to ensure all the apps are actually installed and setup the way you want.  When you are completely satisfied that everything you used to do on the old computer you can do with the new one and thereís nothing more to do to get it so, then you are done.

Think Critically about Done when you start:

When defining a project, or putting something on your to-do list, itís helpful to think a little bit about what it will mean to be "finished", and what it will mean to be "done".  In this way you can plan appropriately, and not be surprised with more to do, or miss expectations, or having a lack of budget because you finished, but were not done.

When we make decisions,

we often donít have all the information we ideally would like to have before making a decision.  So we make assumptions based upon what we know, and at one point come to a conclusion about what to do.  At that point, we often mistakenly think we are done.  Instead, consider the following:  You made some assumptions with respect to what you didnít know, so at some later time, youíll need to revisit those assumptions with a single question; "Are the assumptions we made way back when still valid?"  If so, then continue on the course, but if not, you would be served well to revisit the assumptions that changed to see if your conclusion needs to be modified.  So while you were "finished"when you made a decision, you were not "done" because you need to occasionally check to make sure the assumptions you made are still valid or your decision might no longer be a good one.

When you hire a new employee

.  You donít hire them and just forget about it.  While you finished the "hiring", youíll still have to provide them with a good on-boarding experience.   I remember once starting a job and I was frustrated for over a week waiting for any direction at all.  Also, if youíre a manager, youíll need to evaluate your new hire based on assumptions you made prior to hiring them, and on an on-going basis.  In the case of employee performance, a manager is never "done".

When creating a forecast or schedule:

  You might finish and email it to your manager, but youíre not done.  You might have to explain it, convince others of the achievability, and take steps to ensure you meet it.  In the case of a forecast or schedule, being "finished" is just the beginning, as youíre a long way from being "done".

The Takeaway:
Distinguish being "finished" from being "done" with a job.  Just because you complete a deliverable, doesnít mean you can just wash your hands of it.  Whatís the consequence, whatís the follow up, do others understand it, did you make assumptions that have to be followed up, etc.?   You finish many things, but done comes only when everything related is complete.  Think about what "Done" is before you even start.  It will greatly contribute towards success of achieving "Done".

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