Finishing is the skill


The only way to finish writing, planning, coding, designing, etc. is to do the thing.

Rarely will new tools, larger scope, a different approach, another section, more tidy, or any other number of not doing the thing finish the job.

Finishing is the skill. Finishing is The Way.

Conjecture: the last 90% of a project is 90% of the effort because we rarely develop the skill of finishing.

It’s easy to think “this project was doomed from the start, let’s start a new project to right our mistakes”, and boom you’re starting instead of finishing.

Finishing may incur damage to pride, reputation, etc. OTOH building a reputation for finishing is a tremendous asset in teams and careers.

You probably haven’t heard of many people who didn’t finish their thing.

Schubert had to write nine symphonies so he could write “The Unfinished” Symphony and have it live on hundreds of years later. Is there a writer who is only known for one unfinished novel or screenplay?

Starting a new thing is more fun than finishing an existing thing. This is always the temptation! The interesting things in a project usually happen when you’re starting and when you’re getting feedback from people interacting with it. The finishing phase is often the “canyon of disillusionment” where all the mundane or tedious tasks end up.

Updating another earlier thought:

✋ We’re not here to work on things.

👉 We’re here to finish things.

Corollary: we’re not here to push JIRA issues/Trello cards/etc. around. We’re here to make something and share it with the world.

Don’t neglect those issues/card1. Finishing is important, but communicating that progress counts for a lot too! There’s no sense in finishing if no one else knows.

  1. Me from several years ago would not believe I’m writing this. 😆

    New conjecture: communicating via cards/issues is as important as communicating via pull requests. The interaction of the former is stakeholder to engineer, the latter interaction is engineer to engineer. ↩︎

Adam Keys @therealadam