@johncutlefish's blog

I am currently writing weekly here and have all my 2020 posts here.

We Need Quick Wins…

Published: June 04, 2018

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So you need quick wins.

Maybe this is a new, freshly launched team looking to make a mark. It’s natural to want to get off to a quick, positive start. Cool. Quick-win away.

But what about existing teams? What does that tell your team?

That their prior work was in vain? That they don’t move fast enough, or win enough? That the business is in trouble?

What does this “quick win” approach replace … slow wins? Shouldn’t you always be looking for incremental (relatively quick) wins? If quick wins were possible, why wasn’t that business as usual? It probably wasn’t…so the subtext is that something was/is broken. Will quick wins solve that problem?

And this is why “quick wins” can smell bad.

To the people working in the trenches it can feel like thrashing and success theater…especially if quick wins and short-termism brought about the current malaise in the first place and chasing them will exacerabte the problem. To quote a developer friend currently in a tough spot:

If I trace back the current situation, I believe it all started a year or so ago when we needed quick wins. That set this all in motion. So now we need them again? Hmmmmm.Or the opposite situation drawn from my non-recent past:

I don’t see anyone owning up to the big honking projects that got us to this point. I think everyone still thinks their ideas were awesome, and we just executed too slowly. Is anyone accountable? So before we talk about quick wins, can we talk about that?The team is left wondering about long term viability, and not slipping back into bad habits. It’s also can be kind of ominous. What if the wins don’t materialize quickly? What happens then?

So, in summary, be very cautious about your use of the phrase “we need quick wins”. Barring the example of a newly formed team finding their groove, quick wins are what you need when you’re in trouble and/or grasping at straws.

Use wisely. Perhaps, focus on sustainable wins (and learning) instead.