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Get shit done, that is the strategy
Advocating progress over process for the little things
GSD. To some this means, “Green Screen of Death” ☠ (yikes!), or, “Global Service Desk” 💻 (may I help you?), or to others it means, “German Shepherd Dog” 🐕 (aaaaand action, Rin Tin Tin!). For this week’s Kashbox, it means Get Shit Done - a strategy for delivering small deliverables in the era of rapid change.
I’ve had the following article title in mind for a while, “Just in Time (JiT) marketing - preparing 25% of the time.” I’m not sure if the percentage is right. Rather, it seems a good majority of day-to-day work is reactive, and that’s not a bad thing. You’re hired to do x job, and/or you’ve grown and honed your skills over time to do that job well. The crux, at times, is knowing when to inform others and get their feedback. There is time and room for well-informed collaboration - it’s a fantastic goal for complex deliverables, so they land right without surprise. But when the stakes aren’t high, and “stuff” needs to get done, it’s OK to launch into GSD mode. Get it done, move on. Get it done, move on. GSD, and move on.
This is not a Jerry Maguire’s “The Things We Think and Do Not Say: The Future of Our Business” memo - sorry, mission statement (Thanks, Cameron Crowe). And to be honest, I don’t always get the balance right. This article (much shorter) is a personal “breakthrough, not a breakdown” from a services-oriented product manager perspective. It’s an explanation, not an excuse.
Landing a little hot, intact, on time, and with fewer checkpoints
Marketing, for me, changed significantly when the SharePoint strategy moved to cloud first. Gone were the three-year-cycle days - planning for a year, developing for a year, and testing for a year (followed by beta releases (on DVDs or multi-gig downloads) before the final gold master version was achieved. That comforting cadence is gone. There are still many big-dig projects, but that’s usually not my world. Work and productivity growth in the cloud means change in the service, a lot of it, with more discreet levels of feature releases and tightened timelines.
The whole building the train while barreling down the tracks, it’s doable, so long as you don’t forget to make time to do the things that need to get done, and don’t waste too much time thinking about doing them. Talk, in some ways, is actually expensive. Walk the walk, and keep walking. You got shit to do.
So as the winds of engineering changed, so too did the course and tactics of marketing. I hope you can apply this to your world of work in the context of keeping up with whatever pace you and your business set. One thing is true: “Evolve or die” - Thomas C. Triumph. Feeling behind and stressed, not having room to be creative or innovative, all reason enough to find that less friction’y path forward.
Work life is not meant to be lived in isolation. It is collaborative by nature. You commonly work with colleagues on the same team. It’s great to get others input, guidance, and creativity.
But for those recurring deliverables, it’s important to operationalize your time for how you work. For me, this applies to things like feature-level blogs, smaller event session submissions, or working on the outline of our next podcast episode. Each has this in common: very little overhead, by design. I’ve done them before, and they don’t require much process, if any. I simply treat them as the next thing I need to do, and work to get them done. And if done right, I find I have time for the fun, creative parts I enjoy. Unnecessary process is not very progressive. GSD means: get shit done. And done. And done. And done again. The non-stop part of the job is real no matter. Don’t let too much of this (email) or too much of that (meetings) dampen your progress.
New tech that helps with the little tasks and forgotten to dos
I could spend a lot of time writing down and planning all corners of my job. And for many things, I do (reference a previous Kashbox article, “Microsoft To Do is my Bullet Journal“). However, I’ve been actively trying to balance time - not just with work and life - but with planning and doing. I’m not a project manager by role or DNA; too much planning leads to the death of my doing.
A new tool that helps me twofold is Microsoft Viva Insights. The impetus is to up-level awareness of where and how I spend my time. And if this “Fitbit™ for work” says I’m taking too many work steps and promotes other ways to spend my time to make me “work fit”, well, I’m gonna pay attention and give it a go.
First, the “Stay connected” tab is like an AI-generated reminder coach presenting to dos based on discussions with colleagues. I’ve found that more than 50% of its ‘recent activity’ reminders remind me. The change for me is that I spend a few minutes reviewing them versus spending 1-2 hours trying to come up with signed and sealed plans.
The second thing I like about Insights is the inclusion of Headspace guided meditation. I’ll be honest, half the time I take the prompt and follow along (“Om” 🧘🏻♂️) and the other half I take the prompt and head out for a walk, or give a family member a call, or take Peanut 🐶 for a walk, or or or. The ‘or’ being “not working” and “taking a break.” When in GSD mode, I’m grateful both for getting the nudge to pause AND having time to pause as a result.
FINAL THOUGHT: “It’s better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”
I’d be lying if I said I never put a plan together, got buy-in and input from peers and managers, or looped in PR and legal for their approval and sign off. No - that would be Pinocchio talking if I said that. However, with my nose length unchanged and the absence of strings, I’ll speak truth, “Not everything needs review and sign off.” I’ll hedge that even more with the reality that by saving yourself time, you’re saving other people time. Consider one less draft review, one less meeting (or two), one less unread chat - you know that one that haunts you to get back to. Build up trust in the system, and carry everyone forward.
I’ve heard the phrase, “Be the CEO of your own domain,” uttered a few times from leaders I’ve reported under. It burdens a bit with a self-driven pressure to make and own your results. But, over the years, I’ve found it in practice to more proactively mean: “Make your own decisions and come to me when you’re stuck or need escalation.” The magic in the minutia becomes the special sauce nobody needs to taste. The meal - the outcome - will plate beautifully. You know what you’re doing. You know when to say when. Cook with whatever spice YOU think it right. Just keep cooking.
There will be times to beg for forgiveness. I believe it will outpace the need to ask for permission. And everything in the in-between is getting shit done - no begging or asking - just doing!
Cheers, Mark “GSD ✅” Kashman
P.S. (Pun Sharing)
Get your eye rolls ready to bake… one pun from me, @mkashman 🙄, and one from the world: