Making S*#^ Up or Getting S*#^ Done

Once on a big consulting engagement, I was at dinner with one of my colleagues. We were chatting about how the project was going. It was complex and fluid, scope was squishy at best, and the client was under severe regulatory pressure, so emotions were frayed and pressure was high.

My friend, the “expert”, said “Well Doug, I guess we can either make s*#^ up or get s*#^ done” (I am trying to keep this rated G).

MSU or GSD – what a battle cry! So what does this mean? Well, for starters, when there is an absence of direction, focus, scope, or purpose, it is tempting to be able to fill in the gaps. Thus the temptation to make ‘stuff’ up (MSU).

Ah, but truth is, in business you usually cannot really make things up. You have to deal with facts, circumstances and reality. If you can grasp those elements, you can focus on getting ‘stuff’ done (GSD).

MSU is like wearing a mask
MSU is like wearing a mask

Young, first time managers may be easily tempted to MSU versus GSD. The big boss may be demanding some answers that you are not ready to give, so you MSU. Yikes! Perhaps it’s not even a lie, but still it only serves to divert attention while you work on the truth.

On the other hand, always being able to get stuff done makes you the expert, the go-to person, and the builder of great value.

Unless your business is story telling or writing, making things up is not perceived to be valuable. Rather, it can be downright troubling once discovered. Credibility will be shot.

Getting things done is a far more meaningful achievement in business of any kind.

Here are some ways to avoid MSU:

1. See the gap, know the gap. Gaps happen; gaps in understanding, information, and circumstance. Do not be tempted to simply fill the gap (thus MSU). Instead, seek to gain the proper resolution to fill the gap. Go get something else done (GSD) to uncover the missing pieces so the gap is filled with applicable material. Then solid decisions can be made.

2. Know with whom you are dealing. Are the other people around you prone to MSU? You should never fall victim to that approach. Seek out reasonable understanding. Don’t settle for someone else’s results if you think they are MSU.

3. Have measurable expectations. Remember the absence of quantifiable information can contribute to MSU. Work toward tangible goals and objectives upon which all parties have agreed.

4. Prepare your plan. Working through an effective planning effort can eliminate most uncertainty. Of course things may change, but usually not too far off course. A central plan eliminates most of the need for MSU.

5. Be a ‘Do-er’ –  If your natural instinct is to get things done, then you will GSD. If you struggle with GSD, work on it. Make it a habit. Get some coaching. Follow the examples of other leaders around you who are known for their ability to GSD.

The simple difference between MSU and GSD can be monumental. The next time you feel tempted to simply make something up, take a pause, reflect, and choose to get something done!

[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe”]Do you make S*#^% Up or get S*#^% Done[/shareable]