When I first posed this question, it was with a very specific object in mind. And that object was my water company’s replacement of the lead piping in my street. And, if I am being honest, I was not ignorant to the answer to my question. It was stated in the said water company’s helpful information sheet, which they posted through my letterbox ahead of the start of their work: seven weeks from Monday 6 January.
But, as I thought more about it; thought amidst a background noise of pneumatic drilling, and banging, and general lead-pipe replacing from the street outside; I thought it was a question with wider applications. Wider implications.
Extend my street to my town, and I could ask when will all the building works be finished improving the town centre?
Extend my town to my country, and I could ask when will all the big construction projects be finished in the UK? HS2. Heathrow expansion. Crossrail. When will they be completed?
And then having reached a countrywide perspective, why stop there? What about the entire world, and all its ongoing problems? The UN Sustainable Development Goals. No poverty. Zero hunger. Gender equality. Affordable and clean energy. When will they be finished?
As a race, will we ever be able to collectively sit back, admire our handiwork, and think ‘job done’? Simply stop and decide that everything is as good as it is ever going to get.
It may sound like a utopian dream, but it is also a key skill of modern management: the ability to assess when a job is done. Done, no matter how inexpertly; done to the best that can be achieved with the resources––time, money, labour––available; done to a degree that no additional benefits confer by continuing.
My bar is set quite low when it comes to deciding when a job is finished. I am much more likely to be heard saying “Yes, that will do” rather than “Oh, no, I think you missed a bit”.
In the grander scheme of things, I prefer to spend time sitting back, contentedly, and admiring what has been achieved, rather than endlessly toiling for an unobtainable ideal. Some people might say I’m a dreamer.
Others might just call me lazy.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree thinks he is not the only one.