Geesh, how hard is it to stay focused!

In a number of employments the focus of a project has always seemed a fine thing, and those that are lacking in focus tend to do worse. I don’t know the reason as to why, but I imagine it is something to do with getting all of your resources to run all over the place and do all sorts of other things without clearly defining or completing a single topic.

This is, to say the least a little chaotic and not good for the employees either, I mean who wants to work in an environment where on a daily basis what you were working on changes so you never finish anything?

It’s good to do lots and to be seen doing lots!

Erm, No; at this point I would really like the noise of a buzzer or some other equally annoying sound. It is true that people like to be seen to be delivering a lot of things, but ask your self this, Are you delivering a lot by doing a lot ?

The answer is probably not, there is no point in doing a lot of things if you can not deliver on any of them, trust me, on this route leads isolation and resentment from the rest of the business, so in short, Don’t do it

I worked in a team about 2 years ago that were controlled by a manager who thought it was a good idea to say yes to everything and occasionally say no, the result of this was that we took on a lot of work that we delivered poorly on and were late on every project. The resulting damage of this was that the reputation of the IT team diminished so far that there was no faith left in them and everyone in the business started seeking their own route to get the solution. This is even worse than simply tarnishing the name of the IT department, it leads on to many unique systems all not integrated and yet the business keeps coming back to IT to get them integrated and you end up with what can only be termed as bespoke crap hooking it all together. Needless to say, this manager did not last too long (thankfully).

It is better to deliver than not

As I touched on above, people do like rapid delivery, but they like it even more if you can continue to do that and that the next time they ask they get the same experience. You can only get that sort of consistency through decent processes and by thinking through the solutions you are doing and accurately time boxing them. If you are not delivering the full solution then you are not delivering, if you did not consider the wider implications when scoping the project, you are not delivering.

Don’t get me wrong this is a balancing act at this point, you have to work out the right way of delivering a project that still enables you to… 1, deliver it and 2, future proof the delivery.

If you only churn out 2 or 3 projects a month, but all of them are on time and on budget it’s better than turning out 5 that are all late. Credibility of the department buys a lot of trust and leeway when needed and by not delivering on what you say will harm this (golden no no)

Focus

Finally after a long winded ramble we are back at where we need to be. Focus. By staying focused on the road map and the committed goals it helps the team and the department continually deliver on the things that are needed, and keep the reputation intact, which is vital.

So the next time a random “wouldn’t this be nice” comes up, think long and hard about if it is needed now, is it worth re-directing resources on to it, and if you do are you still able to deliver what you were committed to? You are in most cases better off planning the work in rather than subverting resources to try and deliver extra.

You need to stay focused on what is already committed before adding in extra work, if you absolutely have to add something in you need to have a strategy for coping, are you going to pay over time to get the work done? slip something else and hurt the reputation of the team? negotiate the delivery of a task slightly later so you can do the new thing?

It’s not bad to have this happen, it’s just bad to keep asking for the work to be done with out thinking about how it is actually going to be delivered.

Summary

Stay focused on what is committed, take on extra tasks after considerable thought and stay focused…

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Business
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