A friend was recounting to me a story of a huge project he had to do for his very famous billionaire boss. I am leaving out names to protect the well-known innocent.
My friend had a whole team of people working on this project, and given its relatively open scope, the team was a little unsure of just how broad and deep a view to take on the work.
After 2 weeks of very hard work, my friend requested a check-in with his boss, the billionaire who had requested the project in the first place. My friend’s thinking was to be able to get some feedback from his boss to see if his team was on the right track. But ultimately, my friend was looking for some sort guidance in the way of “limiting parameters” for this project. He was trying to contain scope.
At the check-in meeting, my friend gives a brief update and then asks for some feedback from his billionaire boss. His boss looks at him for a moment. He pauses.
Then he says, “Make it great.”
That’s it. That’s all he said. My friend was caught aback, but after thinking about it, he laughed. He had been selfishly looking for a way to minimize the work that he and his team would have to do, but instead, he was given a mandate to do an incredible job.
His team ended up over-preparing probably by a factor of 3, but in the end, the work was GREAT. And he learned a lesson that he said he would never forget. When he told me this story, I was wow’d by it. What a great answer.
Really, isn’t that the answer to any question of how to approach a project or anything that you are spending time on? Make it great.