Do you take ownership and follow up?

Last updated by Ulysses Maclaren [SSW] 4 months ago.See history

When working on a task, you often need to wait for others to continue your work. In that situation, it's easy to fire and forget, meaning the task doesn't get done for a long time. No one cares about unblocking a task as much as the person doing it. That's why it's important for that person to follow the Take Ownership and Follow Up (TOFU) principle.

That means taking ownership of the task and chasing the people you are waiting on until it gets done.

What TOFU Involves

There are 2 main aspects to TOFU:

  • Taking Ownership - Giving timely honest updates to stakeholders about progress
  • Following up - Proactively communicating with blockers (ideally chase them at least one a day)

Why It's Important

  • Accountability: The TOFU principle fosters a culture of accountability, where individuals feel personally invested in the outcome of their work.
  • Clarity: Regular follow-ups provide clarity to all stakeholders, keeping everyone informed about progress, challenges, and changes.
  • Trust: Demonstrating reliability through consistent follow-up strengthens trust among team members and with clients or stakeholders.

How to Do It Effectively

  1. Acknowledge and Accept: When a task is assigned to you, acknowledge it promptly and ensure you understand the requirements. If anything is unclear, seek clarification immediately.
  2. Communicate Proactively: Don't wait for someone to ask for an update. Regularly communicate your progress, especially if you encounter any roadblocks or delays.
  3. Set Clear Deadlines: Establish realistic deadlines for your tasks and communicate these with your team and stakeholders. If a deadline needs to be adjusted, communicate this change as early as possible.
  4. Use Tools to Your Advantage: Understand the best ways for following up effectively and leverage Scrum tools (e.g., Azure DevOps, GitHub, Trello) to track tasks, deadlines, and progress.
  5. Close the Loop: Once a task is completed, ensure all relevant parties are informed and that any necessary documentation is updated. Closing the loop is a critical part of the follow-up process, as it signifies that no further action is required. The way to do this for a task you received via email is to send a Done email. For tasks (e.g. a PBI) outside an email it is usually to add a comment.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Overcommitting: Only take ownership of tasks you have the bandwidth to manage. Overcommitting can lead to missed deadlines and decreased quality of work.
  • Under-communicating: Assuming others are aware of your progress or challenges without regular updates can lead to misunderstandings and delays.
  • Neglecting the Big Picture: While focusing on your tasks, don't lose sight of how they fit into the larger goals and timelines.

In Conclusion

Embracing the TOFU principle is not just about completing tasks; it's about building a reliable, transparent, and efficient work environment. By consistently applying these principles, you contribute to the success of your projects, the growth of your team, and your personal development.

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