Tasks – or Deliverables
In most every development shop I’ve seen, folks’ planning vocabulary has been founded on the task as the unit of work. Long ago, at Familiar, we discovered that a different vocabulary offers some key advantages. Ever since then I’ve found that a planning vocabulary when deliverables are the default unit of work suit me much better.
Some Key Advantages
- Planning in tasks encourages (subconsciously for the most part) busywork (a focus on activity).
- Planning in deliverables encourages a focus on outputs (ands thus, closer to outcomes).
- Deliverables are closer to what stakeholders seek (i.e. having their needs attend-to, or even met).
- Tasks are generally one stage further removed from needs than are deliverables.
- Deliverables are, to a degree, ends in themselves – tasks are means to ends (and hence more disconnected from outcomes).
- I find it easier and more useful to quantify aspects of deliverables than aspects of tasks. YMMV.
Mayhap a focus on outcomes directly would be a further step in the right direction, but for most of the development groups I’ve seen, a single leap from tasks to outcomes might have proven infeasible.
May I invite you to trial a change of vocabulary, and of focus, next time you have the opportunity?