DWYSYWD: IT and the value of declaring victory

I saw a license plate recently that read DWYSYWD. I puzzled over it for a while (Google wasn’t handy), and then it suddenly flashed on me: Do What You Say You Will Do. I’ve since learned that this is a well-known phrase, used by people such as Colin Powell, among others.

How does this relate to IT and the CTO/CIO? Well, all sermonizing aside about how “Do What You Say You Will Do” is a great mantra in general for life, it particularly fits the rapidly swirling technical project world that the CTO/CIO copes with every day. In that world, as we all know, it’s easy to say that you’ll do things, and you’ll certainly be pressured to say you’ll do more and more. Actually getting them done, however, is a bit harder.

How important is it to Do What You Say You Will Do? I went into a CTO role once where I rapidly observed that I had inherited a team that wasn’t doing. In fact, the team wasn’t saying, either. Astonishing as it may seem, they had been allowed by company management to fall into the pattern of making no commitments for delivery, in anything other than the vaguest of possible terms, most of which had to do with stating noble intentions of working hard. In other words, they weren’t really putting themselves on the line. A major part of my approach there was to emphasize the importance of making, and then meeting, specific commitments for delivery. “Commit, Deliver, Track & Communicate” became the simply-stated, three-pronged “get well plan” in that situation. Easily stated, not so easy to achieve; but that’s a story for a different posting someday.

My major point here, though, and an important part of project delivery (doing what you say you will do) that occasionally gets lost, is declaring victory when the project is successfully launched. This declaration should be a relatively formal, executive-penned announcement of the launch, usually delivered via a broadly disseminated e-mail.

Insisting on declaring victory has a number of important purposes:
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