As part of the stuck in the middle series, I will develop multiple personae for examination – the first one is “The Geologist”. The Geologist can be a leader or an individual contributor whose actions of each are on opposite poles of detail – too much or too little.
The Geologist as a leader, says “Bring me a rock” – most often in business this cliche has many use cases, but in my view its the project sponsor, manager or executive who only knows they need something which has a hardness on Moh scale than talc, but clearly we don’t have time for diamonds or a meaningful/supportable/executable explanation of what is required.
Don’t get me wrong, I like bullet points like the next person – but not in the project definition phase – conclusions, lessons learns and general presentations – bullet=rock, but not in the “project contract” for lack of a better word.
Typically this [tag]leader[/tag] will not fully understand what they want – “I want a new “X””. The geologist doesn’t know what it is, but they clearly know what it is NOT. So contributors will go labor, come back and get told “not exactly”, go labor – come back, “nope”, so the loop continues…
There is a point in time typically when the geologist realizes 2 or 3 of the loop iterations ACTUALLY were close, they synthesize and go home. This can add as much as N-times of effort, had the leader defined his or her wants the first time or understood their wants.
Now the [tag]individual contributor[/tag] which is a geologist type, endlessly “tumbles” their rock until it is shiny and cool. It’s not at all the right rock, but they have spent so much time that they are convinced it is valuable – kinda of a fools gold deliverable if you will.
When you get a geologist leader AND executor, you are sure to have over efforted products, content and requirements which will total miss the spirit of the project, but not the letter. After all, the Bullet=Rock, so everyone is fairly happy right until the market launch. Speaking of market launches, this can at times be a great persona for embracing the perfection trap.
At some point you have to stop the tumbler, make an assessment and deliver goods – even if it is a ROCK.