It Doesn’t Matter How Hard You Worked, What Matters is the Results (Stories From Packing a House and Moving, Part 3)

After the last two blog posts, I have yet a third moving story.

After the house was all packed and everything moved out, came the fun part…cleaning the entire house top to bottom. One particular task I performed was cleaning all the baseboards. So I did one or two rooms, using spray cleaner and rags, dutifully wiping down all the baseboards. I could see the dust coming off so I knew I was doing a good job. It took me maybe 45 minutes to do the first two rooms. I moved on to a third room and came across a nasty scuff on one of the baseboards. I exerted a little more elbow grease than usual on that spot and the scuff mark eventually came off. Interesting, I thought, so I went back to an earlier area and exerted that higher level of effort on an earlier part I had already cleaned. Behold, that baseboard came even cleaner!

This made me start thinking about effort and results. I had legitimately put in effort and sweat on those earlier baseboards, and yet they only came so clean. It doesn’t matter that I put the time in, the bottom line was that they were not as clean as they could be. The end-user or customer, in this case, the person doing the post-moveout walkthrough, does not care how much time or effort you put into cleaning the baseboards. They just want to see clean baseboards.

This is an important lesson to keep in mind. Your customer does not care about your internal processes, what they care about are your products and results. I’ve been supporting an ad-hoc team as they are trying to launch a new side project. At this point, it has been months and very little progress has been made because the team is still debating things like what the repository directory structure should look like, and what the software development lifecycle and pipelines should look like. I have been getting a little frustrated, and I want to tell them during our weekly sync meetings, “Our customers don’t care whether we use Jenkins or GitlabCI, or whether we use Github or Bitbucket, or whether or not we use nUnit for unit tests! What our customers care about is whether we release this product or not!”

In many organizations there is so much focus on processes that you tend to lose sight of what is important, that is, actually releasing a product that your customers will use and will delight them! Stay focused on your customers and bringing them value, and let the technical details take care of themselves.

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