Where to draw the line and how to get over it
The stand up
Since the start of the year, we’ve been having daily ‘stand ups’ to check in on the progress of our new website as we work to get it out the door. They go something like this:
We head upstairs to the kitchen, grab some caffeinated rocket fuel, and damned well focus.
Our Project Manager, Matt, ably assisted by his dog Scribble, takes us through the headlines from yesterday’s work and we each check in on our focus areas to update the team.
Then, a curve ball: we realise a key person has fallen out of the loop, or not fed back on a thing when we thought they had. (It happens.)
Then, a game of tennis: the back and forth of a conversation between a group of people with a common goal, trying to work out how to mitigate the curve ball and make a shot that still makes it over the net.
Coffee cups drained, we finish wrangling and agree on the important stuff - what happens next, who does what, and when.
In yesterday’s stand up we decided to shift our timeline for getting the thing out the door. We had to take a pragmatic view, as a team, about what was possible and what wasn’t, and then get on and do it. So that’s what we’re doing. And it got me to thinking - last week, Jeremy talked about ‘looking beyond launch’ - extolling the necessity of a balanced perspective that reminds us all, a group of perfectionists in the room, that in so many ways, shipping the thing is only the beginning.
I think it’s good to remember that this is the web. I keep telling myself that we’re not unveiling something carved in stone. Even after the launch we can keep making the site better. In fact, if we wait until everything is perfect before we launch, we’ll probably never launch at all.
And he’s right. So it begs the question: where do we draw the line and how do we get over it?
The elusive line
I’m picturing that line in my mind’s eye. It’s playing hard to get. Glimpses of the promise land are definitely there, but just when you think it’s getting closer and coming into focus, it shimmies further away.
The fact is, this last stage is flipping tricky. We make mistakes. Snag lists beget snag lists and we’re all pushed for time and resources because most of the team are focusing on client work. ‘Time is money’, as they say.
So this is where Matt (and Scribble) step in to remind us of the bigger picture. The important questions we ask ourselves to determine where the line is: at what point will it do what it needs to do? At what point will it be in a place that doesn’t compromise our brand? The point at which these two things converge is where our line lies, and where we let go.
Side note: opinions sometimes differ about those two points - and that’s okay. That’s all part of the wrangling and we keep going until we reach a consensus.
Ways to get over it
(The line, that is.)
So, with the line established, I’m now reflecting on what I think are the top tips to make that inevitably challenging (but hopefully fun) final stage roll as smoothly as possible:
Get a Project Manager with distance
This resource might seem obvious, but when you’re on the final stretch, it really does help to have a person that understands the stakes and what’s actually going on, but isn’t so deep in the nitty gritty that they lose perspective.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Regular check-ins in these final stages are invaluable. Things change at the rate of knots and it’s vital that the team and stakeholders are fully up to speed to prevent further snags and delays.
Look after yourselves (and each other)
Groan… sorry to coin a Jerry Springer phrase, but this one is important. Keep it light wherever possible - look after your own needs and be aware of those of the team around you. If it helps to step away and walk around the block for a bit, do it. If it helps to have an endless supply of chocolate at your disposal, have it. If it helps to go to the pub for a swift half at lunchtime, then for goodness’ sake, go to it.
And my final thought, for what it’s worth, is that the presence of a pooch makes things infinitely better, always.
Read the previous blog post about the new site and rebrand: The cobbler’s kids got nothing on design agencies by Jon Aizlewood