Retirement gives perspective on work, resulting in my three rules and lessons learned. (Previous discussed rules in this blog are Rule 1: Politics trumps substance and Rule 2: Newness may not be Bestness.)
Rule 3 - Ambiguity of Purpose is Certainty of Waste
Discussion: In practical terms, this means if your boss or end user, or customer, or client or whatever you want call them, knew what they wanted in the first place, many of us would not have jobs. This is because resources are wasted.
A failure to plan is a plan for failure in the modern organization. You must know what you have when you start and your end state. As simple as this sounds, failure to understand where you are and what you want will guarantee you will waste resources and not end up with what you want.
My continual advice to people is avoid working for someone or being on a project where the boss states what they want is such that 'I'll know it when I see it'; avoid this like the plague. The high tech world calls this disease 'scope creep'.
Success comes from:
1. Well defined tasks with finite, measurable and agreed to ways to determine if a task is completed. Otherwise you come up with vacuous statements like the job is 70% completed: 70% of what?
2. Detailed planning. This involves risk management which considers the chance of a deleterious effect occurring and the consequences if the event occurs. A good example of this dual aspect of risk is buying fire insurance for your house: the chance of your house getting on fire is low, but the consequences of a fire are major.
3. Getting the right people involved at the right time. Sometimes this is counter intuitive since you might need to have a trainer involved when designing a system to ensure there is no steep learning curve when using the system.
The fancy name for these ideas is Project Management. The general idea is to have a well defined purpose to efficiently use resources.