Some Seth Godin Lessons in Shipping a “Project”

Imagine if just 1% of projects in the world took 1% less cost and time ?!?!

Here is the link to the whole thing (audio version) in case anyone is interested. I am just sharing what you need to be incrementally better at shipping projects rather than perfect ;-P !!

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Pen and Paper

While this was not a point made by Seth specific to shipping projects — I think it can be translated to that. There has been research that has proven that “handwriting on paper leads to greater brain activity and memory retention compared to handwriting with a stylus on a tablet.” Where this helps from a Project standpoint:

  • More likely to remember plans made on paper, and thus not take instinctive decisions based on incorrect memorised details. This saves times on those meetings that never should have happened in the first place because someone started walking on the wrong track and had to be brought back to familiarise with the initially approved details on various aspects of the plan.
  • This holds for individual tasks as well, and ensures that no one drops a ball. I reiterate that this is all relative. We are aiming for good enough, not perfect; we wish for better, not infallible.
Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

Tradesmen and Architects

  • It is important to involve all those who will be touching parts of the project as early on in the project as possible. From there on there should be less focus on planning and more on execution. This calls for more tradesmen being hired for a construction project for instance and the number of architects being reduced.
  • If there is an orchestrator who has taken on the responsibility of the shipping of the project on a particular date, they would exponentially be reducing decisions on an everyday basis if people are taken off the project when on regular time increments. Making decisions is important but there are only so many you need. Needlessly increasing the number of decisions you have to make is a big risk, and keeping a large number of people on the project from start to finish maintains that risk.
Photo by Bill Stephan on Unsplash

Core Functions and Optimising Decisions

  • What is the one thing with the project in question that your team should not lose sight of (besides shipping within the deadline)? Is it great customer experience, cost savings, revenue, profit, subscriber growth, monthly active users, capacity utilisation, recurring order potential, net promoter score, etc.
  • Eg. from Seth’s audio: A team was having supply chain issues and would have to break budget to get titanium in time. Alternative was aluminium which was cheaper and available in time. Durability was the main essence the business was looking to provide its customer, and getting titanium in time would have cost $10,000 extra. Decision was taken to pay up and move quickly as they were in the “durability business not in the cheaper alternative business”.
  • Having one and only North Star, and aligning the team on it and why keeps decisions flowing quickly, as it is easier to maximise around one metric. Let me give you another analogy — Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes, etc. racing in Formula 1 have to take decisions whether to spend their R&D dollars on gearbox, acceleration, straight line speed, aerodynamics, etc. They have to align on what would suit their driver the best after having historic data on driving style and strengths. They can’t be good at everything, and so have to choose a North Star to get behind around which others will take shape on their own. This is over-simplification but you get what I am trying to say.

There are admittedly a lot more lessons that Seth gives in that audio. I am just trying to move to a more “ship early, ship often” way of writing to publish more often. This means that:

  • My articles will have value but will not be holistic — and thus be shorter
  • I won’t be waiting an era ;-) before publishing regularly or my next
  • I will “let go” off wanting to over-explain to already smart readers
  • My guilt levels will come way down ;-P !!!

Let me know what you think. Let’s do this people :-) !!

Sorry for the lack of jokes in this one. they are coming for sure. Cheers !!!

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