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Frank Patrick's Focused Performance Business Blog
This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Creator vs. and Revisor -- OK. I'll admit it. As a project manager for creative endeavors, concerned with keeping the effort moving toward promised delivery dates, there's the occasional frustration with multiple reviews and revisions impinging on the schedule. Sometimes (?), even after the one or two or three contracted revisions and "final approval" has been granted, there's someone else who has a better (or maybe just their own) idea for a minor tweak to a few words or to the position or color of an image on a website.

Or sometimes, during the original production of the deliverable, the original copywriter or designer is of the perfectionist bent. Where I see output that is "good enough", the "creator" has changed role to become "revisor", as described in a recent Engines of Our Ingenuity podcast (transcript)...
"Thereís a scene towards the end of the 1984 movie Amadeus where an impresario demands that Mozart finish the opera he promised. "Oh, it is finished," Mozart replies. "Up here," he says, pointing to his forehead. "The rest is just scribbling."

"And thatís our "genius" fantasy, isnít it? Einstein, poring over dreary patent applications while working out the theory of relativity in his head. Mozart, taking musical dictation from God, as a pathologically envious Salieri imagines it in Amadeus. The perfect product is somehow out there in the ether, perfectly finished at the cosmic factory. We just have to find it -- the rest is just scribbling.

"But it rarely works that way. Maybe it never works that way. A creator may work at a white heat, but thereís a cold shadow by his side. Let's call the shadow "Revisor." Revisor has no first thoughts, only second thoughts. Revisor also has a terrible case of OCD. He's always asking the same question: could it be better?"
"Could it be better?" Of course it could. Everyone involved askes that question throughout a project. But assessing and defining the incremental amount of "betterness" versus the impacts on the budget and schedule of the project are sometimes non-trivial exercises.

The thing is, though, my frustration is usually only a short-term exasperation and actually can serve a purpose. It gives me something to whine about so people keep it in their head that we're managing schedule and effort/budget as well as the quality of the product. (Although when (usually) the tweaks come from the client side, I don't whine too loudly. Just enough to lay some subtle guilt on the "revisor" through hints that these are unexpected changes and that there is not necessarily zero impact -- unless, of course, they are so significant that a scope discussion is triggered.)

Actually, if the project is appropriately sold, and expectations are realistic, the classic project management dilemma of delivering top quality versus delivering profitably and on time rarely ever really kicks in if I've been able to set up the project with appropriate schedule risk buffers. But that's a subject I've touched on before, many times.

So, Mr. or Ms. Revisor -- revise on toward perfection. I'll let you know when you might be causing problems and have to start considering what's "good enough".

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