Pinball board game with the words start and finish.

Done is Not the Same As Really, Really, Done, Done

By Helen Lane

May 7, 2018

What does done look like? This is a question that Ankura professionals ask all the time when leading big change. It’s because we’ve learned the hard way that each person on the team has a different mental model of the definition of “done” for any given program.

To illustrate, let’s imagine that you are leading a two-year, multimillion-dollar strategic initiative to transform a company’s back office business environment, including the implementation of a new ERP solution and significant process automation. There are 75 people on the team and two software vendors involved.

When developing the implementation road map, each team defines its work effort and when it will be “done” with its part. When managing the program progress, the developers report “done” when their code has been (barely) tested. The infrastructure team reports “done” when the servers are installed and successfully connected to the network. The trainers report “done” when the train-the-trainer sessions are complete. The software vendors report “done” when the software has been installed and (barely) configured.

But we aren’t done yet, are we? Of course not. And in order to succeed, it’s critical for these teams to stay engaged in the program past their own “done” component. So, what do we do?

Through the years, to help with this “done” dilemma, we discovered some new language that helps us more effectively lead teams through change. It’s called really, really, done, done.

As change leaders, we understand that each team’s “done” is simply just done. The road map and team involvement must include more than just “done” activities. “Really done” activities might include integration testing, user acceptance, and training. “Really, really done” activities might include pilot and rollout steps.

So, what’s “really, really, done, done?” At this point, you should be fully operational and beginning to measure some business value from the change program.

Graph showing different stage of done-ness