Knowing when you’re done

Knowing when you’re done

Starting something is hard but recognising when you’re done and moving on is even harder.


Winding down a project or moving on from a job role is an under rated skill. It’s human nature to want to maintain the status quo.

In a corporate environment there’s a clear process for managing a transition but it’s altogether different when it’s personal.

It’s one of the harshest but most valuable lessons I learnt from my dad. He called me out numerous times in my late teens for drifting from one activity to another without ever successfully completing anything.

There are three reasons to wind down a personal project.

  • Learning – my primary motivation for taking on voluntary projects is to keep learning. I also want to pay back the profession for my 20-year career and support the next generation of talent.
  • Contribution – when you cease to make a contribution and you could be replaced by someone more effective you need to get out of the way. This also applies in your day job.
  • Achievement – if a project has achieved its purpose, or has gone as far as is possible, it’s time to find something new to do. There’s always something new to do.

I’ve wound down my involvement in two side projects this month, the CIPR Community of Practice, and #PRstack. I’ve taken both as far as I’m able and I want to regain some headspace.

Public relations community of practice

The CIPR Community Practice has been renamed the Public relations community of practice and is now being managed by members of the community.

It will remain aligned to its original purpose, as a place to explore the relationship between public relations theory and practice.

Thanks to Simon Butt-Bethlendy, Stuart Bruce, Kris Pole and Heather Yaxley, for offering to help continue and develop the community, and to the community for embracing this approach. There’s already been some good discussions.

I started the CIPR Community Practice last year as Past President of the CIPR. A six-week conversation discussed ways in which academics, teachers and practitioners could work better together.

Around 300 people explored research accessibility; conversion from theory to practice; shared media; and areas for mutual cooperation leading to this article published on my blog in October.

The article led to a workshop pitch to BledCom. Dr. Roger Hayes, Sarah Hall, Dr. Jon White and I will head to the research conference in July to develop the conversation with the BledCom community.

Making sense of the public relations tools market

#PRStack was an altogether different project. It set out in November 2014 with the ambition to make sense of the public relations tools market.

We created a web app that characterised more than 250 third-party tools, and we published 48 how-to guides written by more than 35 voluntary community members covering different areas of public relations workflow.

It was a project that responded to a need among public relations practitioners at a moment in time.

There’s potential to develop a consulting or training business around #PRstack’s purpose but that would destroy the community, and however you run the numbers the market is small.

Thanks to Prezly’s Frederik Vincx. He showed the vision to back the project and lent visual design, development and production support for the books and the web app.

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