I have a team that takes forever to finish writing projects



The Context

There's a great college sports expression from the eighties, the hay is in the barn. It means that preparations are over and the team is ready for the event. Coaches often use this phrase to motivate players before game time. As if to say, men, you've already done all the work you could do, and now it's time to reap the benefits. Preparations have ended and the countdown has begun. This mantra has profound implications on the field or the court, but it also applies to any small team working on a project. Because they're trying to move the ball downfield too, albeit playing the game of business.

The Tool

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HAYBARNING -- Declaring something done so your team can reap the benefits of their hard work

There has to come a point where the team leader stands up and declares, okay everyone, the hay is in the barn. Time to put a creative stake in the ground and call this thing done. No more feedback, no more rounds of copy edits, no more deliberation. This project ships out right now.

It's funny, this moment wasn't difficult for me in my entrepreneur days. Calling something done is easy when it's just you and maybe one freelancer. But when you work on team with at least two other people, it complicates the issue. Inertia presents itself in a lot of different and complex formats. And what you need to overcome it can require various measures. Somebody has to be the dictator. At several of my startups jobs, I reluctantly had to be that person. Didn't like it one bit. It's not in my nature to bark orders tell people what to do. Besides, nobody likes deadlines. They force people to decide, and deciding is a form of death. Regardless, my role was typically creative director, so there always came a moment in the eleventh hour of projects where you could almost taste people's urge to keep holding on. It was strong. My job was remind the team, guys, we've reached the point of no return. There is nothing left to do, our work is done here. The hay has been cut, bailed and put in the barn. Now we need to trust the process, be honest with our preparation, and get of our own way and let greatness happen. Otherwise we're all consigned to careers as stocks boys in the warehouse of inertia. Guess my motivational speaker days came in handy.

The Rest

Point being, when you feel your project ending, you have to have a lot of discipline to not screw it up. People can get lazy and hide behind details. But the only way out of is through. You have to declare it done and ship it out now. Otherwise it's just going to sit there, collecting dust. How does your team know when the hay is in the barn?

The Benefits

Avoid wasted labor and resources
Overcome team entropy in the final stages of projects
Consistently ship your work ahead of deadline and under budget
Increase your team’s average time to market

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