Incomplete. Something missing from the overall picture of your company. An out of date business plan. A process that is not working. A product line that is stagnate. Oh, and some staffing that is no longer adequate. Fact: there is unfinished business throughout the business. But where is it?

That is the question to ask the team: where is our most important unfinished business? Perhaps it is something that can be completed. OK, by whom and when? Or, if it cannot be finished, or is not worth it, then drop it. Pivot and move a new direction.

Who needs to deal with this condition? The leader, of course.

The quest

Ask a good team member to take on the task of locating all unfinished business in the organization. Build the list, ask your team to help prioritize and evaluate it, and decide what to finish, what to stop, and what to put on a back burner for a while.

There are numerous sources of unfinished business. Every department of the organization, input from customers and prospects, talking to vendors. Where is our unfinished business?

This should be the full-time business of one, trusted person – sometimes the leader. If this not happening in some way, then this alone is critical unfinished business. Paradox!

The blockages

Here are some real reasons that we don’t deal with unfinished business:

· Sometimes we are so engrossed in doing new things that we fail to finish prior things.

· Our people are not well trained in the art and science of follow-up.

· Some employees will subconsciously drag things out just to keep their job.

· We are aware of some unfinished business, but we ignore it out of laziness.

· Or, “It is somebody else’s job, not mine.”

· Believe it or not, fear of success will prevent some people from completing things.

· Finishing older tasks may not carry enough reward and recognition.

· Someone is promoted or leaves, and their incomplete task is not delegated to another.

· The potentially high cost (and waste) of incomplete work is not understood.

· More simply, the leader is not leading. Really.

Too many of us are not aware of The Power of Completion.

Alt view

Yes, there are some rational reasons to support some appropriate level of unfinished work. One of these is that if everything is always done, we can lack a sense of purposefulness and excitement.

Completing unfinished business can be an opportunity to solve problems via good teamwork. And, the people who complete the unfinished work can be rewarded and feel good about what they have accomplished.

The famous “Unfinished Symphony” by composer Franz Schubert was actually declared as finished on a technicality by another composer after Schubert’s death. This music is considered as a classical success.

A relay of success

Sometimes, unfinished work can be left for others who have new skills and energies to advance the completion. Steve Jobs left plenty of unfinished business for his successor at Apple, Tim Cook – who has run the next lap of the Apple “relay of success.”

The bottom lines

Unfinished. What are the unfinished assignments in your organization – and what is the cost? Find an “Unfinished Business Guru” in your organization. Finish that which really needs completion, and let the rest go. Save time, save money. Reward completion.


By Tom Zender – Guest blogger
Phoenix Business Journal