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You only work in two areas!

I assume you recognize people in the organization who run around doing a little bit of everything. They don’t focus on anything, even if they are in one area, they have a lot of things to tackle in that area. There is no focus on finishing something, because then something else suffers.

What do you think about their effectiveness? Probably not so good, right? I bet you think that one of these people is not prioritising the right things. They don’t focus on what you’d like them to focus on. Focusing is putting energy into one area and setting aside time to deal with that part.

Having too much to do in too short a time only splits your attention. In a traditional line organisation, it is common that what you focus on is what the manager wants you to focus on, because it is something that his/her manager prioritises. This is understandable as it is the manager who gives praise and punishment, in the form of money or otherwise.

Unfortunately, the customer has the misfortune to get lost in these discussions. The further away from the customer you are, the more the issues to be prioritised will be introverted. Many times this means that it is the daily routine for many in large organisations. In smaller organisations, it is natural to always have the customer in mind, as everyone is constantly aware of them.

The first thing you need to do is to see and understand that all the work you have in your organisation can be divided into two broad types:
Project work
Process work
. There is no additional type at the top level as I see it.

Process work is what happens over and over again in a never-ending flow. It doesn’t slow down as long as you do what you’re supposed to do. If you work in academia, you educate students and do research. If you work in a grocery store, you deliver food to customers as long as they need it. As long as you continue to do what you set out to do as your business idea, you continue the process of delivering it to customers.

Project work is work that is done once with the aim of accomplishing something, for a limited time and with a limited amount of money. It is also done by a temporary group of resources. The project ends when the task is solved.

Work performed in processes is performed in the order in which the processes are designed. Work in a project is carried out in accordance with the project plan created. Some projects are formal and there is a project manager and several resources involved. Other projects are smaller and may only involve you and possibly a colleague.

I come across a lot of people who find themselves in a work situation where they have a lot to do in a short time. However, they never take the time to understand whether what they are about to do is part of a process or a project.

If you don’t have a clear picture of what you’re going to do and how it all fits together, then it’s not easy to understand how to prioritise either. Everything becomes more just a set of frustrating things that have to be done, which makes it very difficult to prioritise yourself and to get others to objectively participate in the prioritisation. Others experience the same thing, which doesn’t make it any better.

If it’s a busy process, you need to understand how the flow is connected and make sure there are enough resources to solve any tight sectors in the flow. It’s easier to talk about a particular flow having limitations, than a particular person having a lot to do. We can then solve the challenges together constructively instead of getting stuck in the possible limitations of different people.

The process is led by the process manager, whose task is to ensure that the process delivers the best possible results in the most efficient way. This is done together with those working in the process.

In a project, the project manager leads the work. If it is a multi-involved project, problems need to be raised and the project manager may need to reschedule the project.

If it is a small project, where you both manage and carry out, you must be the one who carries out the planning of the work to be done. I will address this in a future article and it is step number two, of the two steps I initially talked about.

To start with the first step, I suggest you make a list of everything you have to do. You can group them and you should then mark them with whether they are part of a process or a project. Then find out which process and which project it is.

As for the process, you may not have these ready yet, but note down a suggested name for the process. It puts you at ease and provides a basis for further discussion within the organisation.

Once you have done this, there should be no tasks left in the list. Everyone must belong to either a process or a project.

Those were the first tips. Keep your eyes peeled for the second tip in the next newsletter.

Good luck!


For the excellence of you and your business!