The Surprising Secret to Getting Things Done
The secret to getting things done is only starting things you can finish. But that leaves little room for trying new things.
The most surprising and helpful thing I’ve learned about Doers is they step to the starting line slowly. It’s their pickiness that gives them a reputation for being naysayers.
A Doer who can’t see a clear path to the finish line runs for the hills. A Dreamer says, “We’ll figure it out.” A Doer thinks that’s just dumb.
4 outstanding qualities:
#1. Doers think long and hard about commitments. Once they commit, they’ll finish. Successful leaders know the value of recruiting and energizing reluctant Doers. Once they’re in, they’re all in.
#2 Doers plan before they go and push through rather than adapt. They seem hard headed and inflexible to Dreamers and Feelers.
#3. Doers evaluate rigorously. If you want someone to evaluate projects, performance, or people, ask a Doer, not a Dreamer or Feeler. Dreamers are satisfied with progress and learning. Feelers hate making others uncomfortable. Doers seem judgmental.
#4. Doers don’t need novelty. They need to finish. Dreamers jump in quickly, get distracted, and lose interest as time passes. Dreamers generate and chase new ideas. Doers dig in if they believe they can finish.
4 ways to energize reluctant doers:
- Understand their personal purpose. What’s meaningful? How might a potential project fuel their need to matter? (Admittedly, this idea applies to Dreamers and Feelers as well.)
- Ask them for small commitments before big. A small yes allows Doers to dip their toe.
- Set a short-term achievable goal that allows them to evaluate the long-term path forward. Ask, “What would it take for this project to be worthwhile?”
- Don’t dally. Doers make up their minds quickly. Set a near-term date where they make the big yes or no.
How might leaders help Doers commit to new projects?
Doers: Plan, organize, make lists, and find energy in finishing things.
Dreamers: Figure things out as they go, love new ideas, bristle at organization and find energy starting things.
Feelers: Despise conflict, display deep loyalty, do things themselves rather than ask others to do hard things, and find energy in relationships.
Hello Dan, I’m a new subscriber and I’ve enjoyed reading every article. The question(s) about this article Is: 1) what is the definition of Doers, Dreamers and Feelers. I work with psychometric tools and my interpretation of this article is that Doers are high achievers while Dreamers and Feelers are not. I just finished a workshop to update my certification, and I think that Doers, Dreamers, and Feelers all have strong points in their dimensions, and that they all need each other to make an organization successful. It would be interesting to see the criteria by which you classify these dimensions.
Thanks Barbara. I’m still exploring the definition of terms. Fundamentally, Doers are energized by finishing things. Feelers are energized by relationships. Dreamers are energized by starting things.
I’ve been observing people for years. More recently I’ve been having conversations to get greater clarity.
All three work hard. All three can lead and succeed. I know successful leaders who represent each style. I would add that in many organizations, Doers succeed especially well.
We all have all three ways of seeing. We’re great at one, average at a second, and lousy at the third.
What comes to mind for you?
Don’t we have to be a bit of ALL of these things? Isn’t the issue really one of balance? Sometimes, the unfinished things get reframed into a new improved version, like what happened to me the other day on a stalled project and the gain of a new colleague (and new focus and energy).
I throw mud at the wire fence, just to see what sticks. Then, I throw more mud. And I also expect a bit of rain, but then it clears the air for me to throw more mud.
And I STILL want you to work with me on the Square Wheels Novel about leading workplace improvement efforts during the implementation of robotics and AI. My scene will be a banking organization and I am visiting a couple to get an actual lay of the land. Wheeeee.
Thanks Dr. Scott. Yes we all have all three. But, I don’t think it’s about balance. Balance is the reason a person loses the qualities that make them exceptional. Perhaps it’s more about who we surround ourselves with, once we see our own strengths and weaknesses.
I also think that the situation we are in brings out one of these perspectives more than others.
Thanks for the invitation re: the book. Who knows what good may come.
Dan, I’m enjoying your series on doers, dreamers, and feelers — and learning more about myself and my colleagues with each and every blog post. It reminds me of a novel entitled The Project Manifesto. Written very much like Goldratt’s The Goal, it introduces critical chain project management principles in the context of a story. In the course of the story, the book introduces a set of values that probably appeal most to doers.
The Project Manifesto values describe conflicts that people frequently feel when doing project work. The values give a direction for resolving the conflicts: We value A over B. B is important, but should be put in the context of A
Following the paradigm of a relay race:
1. We value priorities over responsiveness
– Finish priority actions before responding to other requests or interruptions
2. We value finishing over starting
– Complete and deliver before starting additional initiatives
3. We value speed over deadlines
– Deadlines can be a source of delay when we could otherwise finish sooner
4. We value shared goals over individual goals
– Team rather than individual focus – working together to succeed as a team
Looking forward to the next post. All the best!
When I first started reading this series, I immediately classified myself as a Doer. However, after reading this post, I feel I identify more with the Dreamer. I know you say that we are primarily one, but I am very hard-pressed to figure which between these two. Feeler is definitely a distant third :).
I am wondering if it depends upon the situation and what is needed. When I am with mostly Doers I feel like my creativity has been squeezed out of me and I feel the need to be more of a Dreamer. If I am on a team with mostly Dreamers who aren’t moved to do the work to finish anything I get frustrated and become more of a Doer. Women (stereo)typically fill in the gaps in order to make things work rather than insist on playing to their strengths.