In a meeting the other day, I heard a leader talk about the challenges of a project that required a much greater time commitment & required more resources than first thought. Never doubting the value of the project. But sharing the difficulties encountered in execution because of a lack of resources for all of the detail work the project requires. Lack of resouces clearly requires a much greater time commitment from available resources for this project. Pushing other necessary to do items aside. Leading to this competent leader’s frustration.
Earlier in the week, I was with a different group where members were sharing multiple ideas to be completed. All of which the group agreed had value. Never discussing either the time commitment or needed resources to bring any of the ideas into life.
Then there is our own work pressures & family responsibilities. Making our to do lists longer than we would like. With many items on it we know are of great value. As the only “band member”, there is little thought given to time commitment or needed resources. We feel all alone with no resources and a limited amount of time.
What’s confusing are the common cures thrown about in the popular world to help us. Things like prioritize, decide first on your objectives and goals, figure out what’s important vs what’s urgent, and so on. Selling us on how easy we can create simple ways to rank order our responsibilities. Focus is another word shared as if all that is needed is to put on our glasses. While focus can align our attention on a single thing, it does little when faced with multiple items to complete.
There is greater leverage in using scope to help “right size” our stack of to do items into next steps that have a reasonable chance for completion. By scope I mean how much of some idea you are willing to tackle as well as deciding what you will not look at or do at this point in time. The second half of this being the more important to define & agree on.
When resources are over-committed, consider finding ways to do less of the job in its entirety while still delivering 60%- 80% of the benefit. In this situation, it’s not perfection we should seek but rather progress that is sustainable. Leaving the last 20%-40% to be completed at some point in the future.
For the other two situations, you still want to deliver sustainable progress. A better starting point is to try to estimate both resources and time needed for the various ideas or to do items. Then determine scope. What are you willing and not willing to do to move them forward. Then, if you like, you can see what projects or to do items fit well with your overall objectives or goals.
It’s foolish to commit to do things where you neither have the resources or time needed. Either as an organization or individual. The real skill needed is to be able to clearly recognize this constraint. Then move forward on what we are confident we can accomplish. For getting 60%-80% of the way is better than doing nothing.