Get Sh!t Done – Right People Do Right Things


This is a response to this post by David Spinks of Feast and The Community Manager. Simply put, David points out all that`s wrong about a “Get Sh!t Done” mentality. Obviously, GSD’s not worth a S if the capabilities and tools aren’t in place to enable getting stuff done. It also helps that you’ve got an actual clue about what stuff should be getting done, when.

In my personal and business lives (going back to my mid-teens) I’ve been a coach, team lead, mentor, father (still am), team member, and manager. I’ve worked on dozens of projects in many countries and industries, many of them with a great sense of urgency to GSD. I do not, however, have much experience with startups. In all of those roles and projects I’ve been told, and told others, to “get sh!t done.”

Regardless of the business, there is always pressure to get sh!t done. Whether it’s getting a product out the door, processing a benefits application, getting a website updated, implementing software, putting together a budget, crafting an HR policy, … whatever, people need to perform and things need to get done. It doesn’t matter if the organization is a startup, an established multi-national, or a government entity; the expectation is that things get done.

“Get sh!t done” needs to be prefaced with an understanding that the right stuff is getting done and the right people are being tasked to do it. What makes people right for getting it done? They have the necessary skills, capabilities, attitude, and time to get it done. If they don’t, and they are still being asked to get it done, it’s their manager’s fault, unless they’ve lied to their manager.

If someone is told “GSD” there has to be an assumption that the doer has the necessary resources and skills. If not, either the manager is mismanaging or the intended doer needs to pipe up and articulate any deficiencies in resources or capabilities.

There are type A’s and type C’s out there, just as there are people who will always be less productive than others. Why they’re like that may be interesting to discover, but is ultimately a waste of time (unless it’s a temporary blip brought on by circumstances). What’s more productive is to determine whether or not they fit in the organization. Depending on the dynamics of an organization, having people that aren’t type A, super-productive-ambitious may actually be a good thing. As a manager you need to know how to deploy them correctly and keep them motivated; you need to find out what their capabilities and limits are. If they don’t fit in to how things need to be done, you need to get them out of the way. As long as everyone is working towards the same overall objectives, things are good.

Get sh!t done is a tactic. Shipping a product or some software code is not the goal; the goal is profitability. In the case of government, the goal is delivering services and governing without wasting taxpayer funds. Lots of little sh!ts need to get done to meet organizational goals; simply living a mantra won’t get you there.

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