The last 10%

Is by far the hardest.

Some people substitute 10% with 5%, 2%, 1% ... you get the idea.

I am certain there have been papers upon papers and blogs upon blogs written about this concept but I wanted to give it a shot. I don't write these philosophical posts all that often so forgive me but this is important.

A cartoon by @gapingvoid

A cartoon by @gapingvoid

Here is the life-cycle of a project as I see it:

Stage 1 - Excitement
Brainstorming. Crazy ideas. Planning. Deadlines. A general sense of what we want the end product to look like. We know there is a lot of work to do ahead, but we choose to ignore that for the time being because we're caught up in the dream of a new idea coming to life. It's a great feeling. You tell your significant other when you get home, even though he or she may or may not care ... you are that excited.

Stage 2 - The groundwork
The excitement continues, you begin to start scratching the surface of what needs to be done. You start to make progress and this makes you happy. You are coming closer to the dream that you had in stage 1. You start to see glimpses at the sheer amount of work that lies ahead but you're still running off a high that started in stage 1 so you decide to let those glimpses fade for the time being.

Stage 3 - The grunt work
This is a real kick in the chicklets. There is a LOT going on and you are just in the middle of it all. Time is not slowing down. This is what you signed up for though and you know that, you know what the reward will feel like when you get through this because you already had a dream about the reward in stage 1. Days and nights are long. Meetings at this point are just a sheer waste of time because every minute you spend in a meeting is a minute not spent doing your work.

Stage 4 - The fires
You've got something! Something even small to show off. The grunt work all amounted to this moment. Now you start to share things around. Then come the revisions, the changes,  the fires. Some work is wasted, some work isn't. Every change hurts you a little bit though because you've worked so hard on this in stage 3. Despite this, you suck it up and make everything right, after all you are almost at the stage of realizing the dream. What's a little more work.

Stage 5 - The last 10%
You're tired. There are things you haven't accounted for. There are things you realize you should have approached differently if the world was perfect and you could turn back time. There's is still a little bit left to do but it's pissing you off because you've already done so much. This is the stage that matters the most though. This is where you need guts. This is where you need to look through the haze to find that dream you had in stage 1. It's almost there, you just have to push for it and make it happen.

I was inspired to write this post because of a tweet (and a few years of experiencing this sort of thing):

"Here's the dealio - in our personal and professional journeys, strive for progress not perfection." - Alan Quarry

This is what the last 10% is about. It's about progress. The fact of the matter is, when you ship that last 10%, you have shipped something. Something the world didn't have yesterday. It doesn't need to be perfect yet, it just needs to happen.

Make it so.