No More Parking Lots

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When you have meetings, do you make a “parking lot”? A section of the whiteboard where you put unanswerable questions that arise during the meeting? Try making a to-do list instead.

The difference is subtle but important. A parking lot is a list of shoulder-shrugs. It’s codified procrastination. Parking lot items say “We don’t know but surely someone will figure this out later”. You might even write them down, but what are the odds someone will follow up?

Better to define tasks that resolve the questions.

For example, a parking lot item might read

“Do we need to support multiple languages and locales?”

This is bad because it’s not clear how this can be answered, or who’s supposed to do it.

A better to-do would be

“Ask Joel Q if we need to support multiple languages”

Maybe also stick on a post-it identifying who’s going to do it. Now you’ve got a good idea of what’s going to happen next and solve the mystery.

This applies to lots of other items, too. Ever make a list of “Areas for Improvement”? Instead nebulous problem statements like “Too many bugs”, use actionable to-do’s like “Ensure all test cases pass in the test environment before moving on to the next feature”.

[image courtesy sortofbreakit, some rights reserved]

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