Exploration Completion Scoping

Day 143 Week 21 Q2 Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Okay, so you love to explore, me too. And when faced with exploring the next thing or completing the previously begun project, there can be an internal tug of war. We all have it. It is the equivalent of a writer historically crumbling up the paper and tossing it to begin writing a new version. Somehow deleting a file is not as satisfying as crumbling up a paper to me. It must be a generational thing.

Now having lived long enough to have crumbled the paper and deleted the file, or tossed out the circuit I was designing or deleted the code I was writing, I have experienced multiple domains worth of not completing and restarting. But there comes a time, and many times, when you no longer have the luxury of starting anew. There are deadlines and deliverables, and they do not care so much about your desire to keep exploring and to keep restarting.

This is when a plan is called for. The level of detail required varies enormously depending on the project. This is the step very many people either leave out or do unconsciously come into sharp focus, or rather, it had better if your plan is to be useful. It is scoping time!

How can you make a plan without having a scope? Oh, people do it all the time, even those of us who should no better from personal experience what happens without a conscious scope. Sometimes the client gets mad, or the contractor gets screwed. Sometimes budget overruns kill the project. Sometimes the changing schedule can cause you to lose an opportunity because the key people have to leave or the seasons change. 

There are infinite failure modes due to not having scoped what you are doing. Sometimes you just dive in and begin doing things until they are done, which is one way to work. It can work extremely well when there is only one person involved, but scoping is very helpful and demanding when there is a team, even a team of two.

What do I mean by scoping? How about getting your arms around a project? Being able to know enough about it to make a plan. How about beginning with the two largest constraints, time and money?

How much of each do you have? Are you young and rich, old and poor, or somewhere in-between? This is where most of us find ourselves. We know there is almost always a finite amount of time and money. Is this a million-dollar project or a hundred-dollar project? Do you have three years or three days?   Usually somewhere in between. 

Try to write down what you intend to accomplish, how long it will take, and how much you will have to spend. And when things change, as they always do for any creative project, you can consciously tell that the scope has to change.