Here’s a simple test for you: just count how many times the players on white shirt pass the ball. It will only take a minute or so and you’ll learn something about yourself. Don't skip it please, I'm trying to make a point here!
Done it? Chocked? Did you replay the video to make sure what you missed? I did...
When you focus you can do more things, you’re more productive. And this is all true. Being productive and efficient is what projects are all about: you need to do things right and do them fast and cheap. When you focus you ignore what happens around you and so you're not distracted. You don't interrupt what you're doing and you're able to get your flow of work going. And so you definitely want focused people working on your project team.
The thing is: projects are unique. And they tend to change over time.
Does focusing help?
All this talk may seem out of place when the intent is to talk about focus. But consider this: what does focus help you as a project manager on dealing with these unknown unknowns? My first guess is absolutely nothing. On the other hand, does it prevent you dealing better with it? I’d say absolutely. If you are focused on the project with your team 100% of your time I’d bet you’ll be the last one to know when such a change (like a merger) happens and impacts your project.
Focus and the window of opportunity
The sooner you know about these changes the sooner you can incorporate them in your project and the wider your window of opportunity is. Compare that to being presented with the facts: hey, we merged with a company yesterday, your project doesn’t make sense anymore for they have a working product developed already and so your project has been canceled, sorry about that. Huge difference, agree?
Focus is great but...
buy a dog (I've been told that's a great help) and you can even do it by having lunch once in a while with people around the project that don’t actually work on the project. Having lunch with the sponsor once a week is a great thing you should probably already do. Why don’t you take that time to talk to him or her about what’s going on on the organization and not restrict the conversation to project related items? Think about it: it’s free! And it could place you in a very favorable position regarding your project!
Use some time to talk about your business environment with your colleagues and stakeholders. Don't forget your sponsor. And don't discuss your project only. If you do this the chance you notice there is a gorilla passing by is much stronger. And once you start seeing the gorillas...
Then you can be a better project manager.
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Posted by Luis Seabra Coelho