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"It's Dead, Jim"


Level 10

I have a philosophical question for those who ponder such matters...

Every couple of months, I circle back to every loose item (e.g. sales leads, potential enhancements, new product initiatives, partnerships, promotion ideas, etc.) and Call Question of the initiators. Typically, doing so then prompts 1 in 5 to move ahead (or at least stays alive)...but almost without fail, the initiators of the remainders then confirm "It's Dead, Jim".

Although can be disheartening to hear that -- especially when they tend to come in self-inflicted "bursts" the morning after I Call Question on mass -- at least I know. And in addition to the encouragement I feel from the appreciation (and often, future consideration) many initiators express for my professionally following up in this manner, I've come to view that certainly as a relief, in that it frees me up to pursue greener pastures.

So, as I'm curious...it got me wondering if I'm tapping into to some common wisdom others have also discovered.

Do you "call question" periodically in this fashion, and if so, can you confirm the same or other benefits for doing so?



5 Replies


Level 10

@Doug Den Hoed - AtAppStore I appreciate and respect people who follow up on outstanding items...even if they're quite old. It shows a‚n attention to detail and process, so would encourage me to deal with them again in the future.

From a personal perspective, by following-up it's also good to get monkeys off your back, so to speak.


Level 10

Hi Doug,

What caught my attention most about your post was your "at least I know" comment because my mission with WFPro is really simple, truth. If I'm going to be using and recommending Workfront as the single work management solution, I want to be sure every click or keystroke is with purpose and of value, which will result in true input. Anything short of that is false and, well, who wants more garbage and lies?

My point is that regardless of the nature of an interaction, I've found the best thing to do is what I feel is true and roll with it. If I have a request that someone raised 6 months ago asking for a form to be built, but never provided the requirements, I simply close the request and post an update saying "Hey, never heard back, happy to reopen this issue if you'd like to revisit this." If someone asked me to build a report and I asked them to validate it 3 months ago and they never replied, I just close the request and keep moving. However, when it comes to potential business negotiations that take longer to procure, I'd be less likely to just let things drop off without careful consideration. It all comes down to the anxiety factor for me, if my gut feeling brings me any level of anxiety, it tells me to wait until I have the answer. If it feels right, then it's honest and clearly the best solution. I apply the same to my inbox. If an email sits there, it's because archiving it brought me some anxiety, which told me I needed it to stick around.

I'm currently in the process of retraining myself to delete every email that I can. And no, it's not because I'm American, but instead because anxiety mail sitting in my inbox typically means one thing, work. And now that capturing work is simple, and communicating on that work in context (Updates), clicking "Delete" in Outlook and Gmail feels marvelous.

Now that I think about it, we spent a lot of time building up the WFPro Prioritize package (discussed here) to give us an overall "Score" based on various attributes of the issue. However, I was wondering if perhaps what we need to work towards is identifying an "Anxiety Score" where a calculated "zero" that aligns with our instinctual/gut "zero" means it's time to act on the work. I recall adding an "Is Ready" attribute, so perhaps I was tracking but just hadn't seen the light yet.

Thank you for the thought-provoking post!



Level 3

@Doug Den Hoed I do the same at the end of each month. We are an internal agency group. Our clients also do not have a "hard cost" for our creative services. So, as you can expect we have several starts that never finish. While our team does a great job to combat this there are several each month that I personally address. I start with 1 or 2 friendly emails. I then will follow-up with a phone call. 95% of the time the call goes beautifully. I will typically take the high road and ask questions to put the person at ease, since I have found them to be nervous having this conversation. This allows me to re-state my department's goals and how we try to operate and be as efficient as possible The project requester is usually very apologetic for using resources that don't amount to a finished project. I found that the person is very nervous delivering news that the project is dead. Overall, these conversations have also opened new connections that either me or my department had not previously had. Hope this helps.


Level 10
We do it every week in our team meeting. Much to their dismay and the destruction of trees, I print out copies of all open projects and issues and anything that is overdue is asked for an explanation, and what to do about the status. I like doing it in a public environment because it often leads to a discussion about the project or the process, and everyone gets to hear about other people's items. Today in fact I'm going to try not printing and instead showing the report on the screen, but technology is not my friend.


Level 9

If the request is for me specifically, I'll reach out at least once and then just close it out if a response doesn't come. Those requests sit in the requester's project so they always have quick access to them if needed.

As admin, I'll typically send out a mass email to owners of old items (cc'ing our management team leaders) asking for them to close out/update/resolve projects, tasks and the like.