Packaging-Heavy Projects

I posted earlier about discovery-heavy projects that are front-loaded with input firehoses. The complementary kind of project is one that has a lot of messy complexity near the finish line. I call these packaging-heavy projects. An example is writing a book. The hard work from the 0-90% mark is relatively clean and easy to structure.

Then you hit all the packaging work: getting the cover design, figuring out formatting needs (fussy conversions to specific print and electronic formats), uploading stuff to various websites, putting information into databases, and of course, copyediting, proofreading and all the rest of it.

Cooking certain kinds of meals is another example. The actual cooking may be tricky and complex, but limited in behavioral scope. But when you have to do the finishing touches: plating, laying the table, garnishes, serving sequence, keeping stuff warm and coming out at the right time… things can get packaging-heavy.

When there is a whole lot of packaging, it’s worth asking whether you’re really trying to shoehorn an entire distinct project into the tail of the current one. Introverted maker types who dislike marketing often make this mistake: they turn an entire marketing project into a shoehorned set of short-changed activities.

But that pathology aside, packaging-heavy projects are a real thing. I haven’t yet found a good way to navigate packaging tail-end phases effectively. Sometimes you can outsource packaging activities, but other times, you just have to power through all the finishing touches and polishing. It’s a high-risk phase, because a lot of effort can fail or deliver very sub-par returns simply because you forgot a simple finishing touch.

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