“We knew a project ended when it stopped showing up on our agenda.”

Launches, kick-offs, kick-starts, startups, jump-starts, ramp-ups, rollouts…I could go on. What we as a culture are good at is starting something and there are plenty of managerial tools at our disposal to focus our energies on getting something started correctly.

One colleague told me that in his previous job, “we knew a project ended when it stopped showing up on our agenda.” While we are good at starting things, we are simply terrible at ending things.

But why should things be any better?

Something is lost when completion is missing

The synonyms for “completion” include “realization,” ‘achievement,” and “fulfillment.” How much does our experience at work reflect the meaning of these words? Many people would say: ‘not nearly as much as it could.’

The essence of completion as a managerial focus is to bring finality to our work, to characterize what we’ve done in a way that leaves us better equipped to move forward, to celebrate the ground we’ve made. The absence of completion leaves organizations disempowered and unable to proactively change course before embarking on the next endeavor.

What does getting complete look like?

The end of 2015 and now beginning of 2016 gives us an opportunity to spend as much time looking back as it does looking forward. Let us take time to complete our work, and the work of all the people that helped us along the way. Consider a few simple prompts to have completion conversations with those around you:

• What was, and was not accomplished?
• What worked and what did not work?
• What are we going to do differently?
• What bears acknowledgement and celebration?

Perhaps most importantly, a collaborative approach to getting organizationally complete generates the kind of fulfillment and sense of accomplishment we are all looking for in our work.

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