project productivity

The secret to productivity

Nicolas Cole is a great writer on the subject of personal productivity. In a recent article of his I couldn’t help but draw the similarities between his personal productivity observations and that of project productivity for development and deployment. The secret sauce to getting things done!

Most people aren’t productive because of these reasons:

  1. They try to do too many things at one time.
  2. They fall victim to distraction.
  3. They overbook and under-allocate the hours in their day.

Sounds like the same pitfalls I’ve seen many project teams fall into. Often times not entirely the fault of the development team, but the business unit always seeking for that extra detail and feature scope. Always trying to polish the cannon ball.

But here are the real reasons people aren’t productive.

  1. They get lost in the weeds and forget what they’re truly aiming for.
  2. They spend far too much time ideating and not enough time working.
  3. They don’t know what is dependent upon what: what needs to be finished first, second, third, fourth, etc.

Agile methodologies work well to deliver value at high speed when focus is maintained. Many projects fail at this promise when there is no clear direction, focus is lost with each new feature scope conversation, and there is no clear captain at the helm holding the team to clear objectives.

Don’t let culture be the culprit

Do you have a culture of fear? A history of not delivering? Do your business units often feel that if we don’t ask for everything now, we’ll never get improvements on this solution later? Company culture around project development, delivery, and methodology is the first place to start for real productivity. Your business leaders need to trust and experience continuous improvement to get behind the idea of a minimal viable product (MVP) delivery. Your project leaders must set clear objectives and whole the team and business units accountable for those objectives as feature scope begins to creep (because we know it always does).

Ask yourself:

  • Does this feature request meet our stated objectives?
  • Is this gold plating other features or is it a necessity to our MVP?
  • Are we adding value with this conversation/meeting or just pontificating the possible?

Remain focused on the project objectives and stated outcomes. With a culture of trust and commitment to continuous improvement, you’ll deliver usable value faster with better results. A product in use always hi-lights the next set of improvements better than a white board. When we stay focused on MVP, and deliver value, we have better feedback from our customers (VoC) and an increased cadence of the process improvement cycle.

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