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Managing
Multiple
Priorities
A mix of personal observations and documented approaches
for managing multiple priorities and distractions.
David Hanson
March 2020
Version 2.0
Topics
1. Multi-tasking
2. LimitWIP
3. Learning to Say No
4. KnowYour Job
5. InterpersonalTechniques
6. Deflect, Defer, Delegate
7. Teach to Fish
8. LogTime Spent
9. Track & Prioritize
10. Importance & Urgency
11. Escalate
12. Risk over Easy
13. Pareto Rule
14. Communication
15. Work Smart, Not Hard
16. Overloaded &Ticketing
17. Agile Practices
18. Observed Managers
19. Summary
20. Rocks, Pebbles, Sand
21. PomodoroTechnique
22. GettingThings Done
Managing
multiple
priorities is not
multi-tasking
Multi-tasking
Study after study shows multi-tasking
produces lower quality results
• Important details are missed
• Careless mistakes are made
• Alternative options are not considered
Multi-tasking extends timelines and
delays value
• Two tasks worked together maximizes
timeline
• Instead of completing one task in half
the time
Task switching adds incremental tax to
the time required to complete the task
• Adds minutes to re-focus from one
task to another and back
Successful “multi-taskers”
 Many managers and leaders have no
choice but to “multi-task”
 Observe how they stay focused in a
meeting until conclusion reached
 Observe how they ignore emails or
cancel meetings to achieve a critical
goal
 Observe how they delegate and solicit
support
Only 1 in 40 people can actually task switch
effectively*
* Supertaskers:
http://appliedcognition.psych.utah.edu/publications/sup
ertasker_ii.pdf
LimitWork In
Progress
Expected Effort: 8 hours/task
Task SwitchingOverhead: 25%
Working in series 50% faster
than working in parallel
Parallel Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Effort Duration
Task A 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 10 hours 5 days
Task B 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 10 hours 5 days
Task C 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 10 hours 5 days
Task D 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 10 hours 5 days
Average 5 days
Series Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Effort Duration
Task A 8 hours 8 hours 1 days
Task B 8 hours 8 hours 2 days
Task C 8 hours 8 hours 3 days
Task D 8 hours 8 hours 4 days
Average 2.5 days
Stop Starting and Start Finishing
Learning to
Say No
Managing multiple priorities is in large part learning to
say “no” …
 No might not be “no”
 No might be “not me, but him”
 No might be “not now, but later”
 No might be “not me, but you”
 No might be “yes, if you help me”
 No might be “yes, if it’s OK with my manager”
 No might be “yes”, but “no” for something else
 And sometimes, no simply means “no”
… while acting cooperatively.
KnowYourJob
Source:ManagingYourPriorities,
Leadership 2000,ZengerMiller
Understand your job and your
priorities
 Brainstorm your tasks and
responsibilities
 Write your job title in the center
 Group related tasks together
Evaluate the results
 Do others own some tasks?
 What gets in the way of your
priorities?
 What aspects do you control?
 What aspects do you have no
control?
 What actions can you take to gain
control?
Product Owner Role
 20% story writing
 20% strategic planning
 20% business interface
 20% research & teach
 20% assisting team
Scrum Master Role
 20% blocks
 20% process & metrics
 20% IT interface
 20% continuous improvement
 20% assisting team
DiagramYour
Job
7
Scrum
Master
CrossTeam
Interface
Facilitate
Meetings
Study Best
Practices
Manage-
ment
Reporting
Provide
Training
Monitor
Backlog
Schedule
Meetings
CoachTeam
Mentor
Individuals
Product
Owner
Proxy
Know IT
Processes
Cross IT
Interface
Maintain
Process
Identify
Blocks
Resolve
Blocks
Manage
Distractions
Facilitate UAT
Maintain
Business
Relationships
AssistTeam
When Behind
Maintain
Metrics
Interpersonal
Techniques
Source:ManagingYourPriorities,
Leadership 2000,ZengerMiller
SayWhen
Why: Need to be honest when interrupted while
working on your own priorities; enables
cooperation while ensuring progress on own
priorities
When: Use when difficult to assert yourself
• Person making request is manager
• Don’t want to admit can’t do everything
• Person won’t take no for answer
• Person doesn’t know how busy you are
How:
1) Listen attentively
2) Clarify how much time required
3) Decide whether you can handle now
4) If not, say so
5) If appropriate, suggest someone else
6) If can be deferred, agree to a time
Learn More
Why: Clarify expectations, gather task details,
understand relative priorities to manage
workload efficiently
When: Use when taking over task from or
assisting someone more experienced
How:
1) Understand task and relationship to big
picture
2) Clarify expected results and required
standards
3) Agree on roles and responsibilities
4) Specify required resources
5) Review key points and understanding
6) Set date for early progress review
Interpersonal
Techniques
Source:ManagingYourPriorities,
Leadership 2000,ZengerMiller
Ask For Help
Why: Asking for help shows willingness to give
best effort, desire to fulfill commitments and
maturity to know that you cannot do it alone
When: Overloaded with too many demands
How:
Before the meeting:
1) Analyze current situation
2) List alternatives
3) Request meeting with manager, leader or
co-worker
At the meeting:
4) Explain the situation using neutral language
5) Discuss possible solutions
6) Agree to actions and follow-up
Give It Away
Why: Need to provide enough information to
insure person delegated task will be successful
When:
• Spend time on higher priority task
• Assign to someone on your team
• Transitioning to another task
• Supervising someone outside team
• Orient new team member
How:
First check:
• Preventing attention to higher priority?
• Can someone else master?
• Are others qualified and available?
• Sufficient time to transition and execute?
If doesn’t pass check, but is recurring:
• Identify and line up candidates
• Break down and delegate a piece
Follow How outlined in Learn More, but in reverse
Manage, Don’t
Do
Myinterpersonalextensions
Deflect, Defer, Delegate
Deflect
 I don’t think I know that as well as my former
colleague
 I need to run to a meeting, but support can
help with this task
 Sounds like a data issue, did you ask the data
team?
 You know, my junior colleague just learned this
Defer
 I’m really busy right now, but I have time later
today or tomorrow
 Sure I can help, but that will require some time,
can you send me an invite
 When do you need it?
Delegate
 Does another team member have bandwidth?
 Does a co-op or intern want to learn?
 Here’s my opportunity to pass along
something else!
 Delegating to the floor…
Bait & Switch
Invest in the long-term
FairTrade
 Sure I can help. Can you help me (now or
later)?
 Sure I can help, but first I need…
Teach to Fish
 Are they likely to come back? Maybe best to
show them how to help themselves.
 Is someone else likely to need help? Maybe if
you teach someone else, there will be a bigger
pool to help.
Where to Fish
 For faster response, next time, contact support
and escalate to me
 Best if you ask my manager who’s best to help
out
Self Help
 What did you try? Did you try this and that?
 I’d google this or that, if I were you
TrackTime
Spent
Source:ManagingYourPriorities,
Leadership 2000,ZengerMiller
 Wonder where the time goes?
 Never get to important tasks?
 Unable to complete anything?
 Frequently interrupted?
 Derailed by shifting priorities?
 Spend a day or a week logging every activity
 Log start time & time spent on each activity
 Clearly note interruptions
 Rank: Important, Urgent, Routine,Wasted
 Comment how time could have been
managed
 Analyze distribution of activity type and
interruptions
 Could interpersonal techniques be leveraged?
 Are there patterns?
Time Activity Spent Type Comment
8:30 AM Timesheet,
Calendar, Scrum
20 min Routine Log time
weekly?
8:50 AM Read some email 25 min Routine Time well
spent?
9:15 AM Attend Scrum 20 min Routine 15 min should
be enough
9:35 AM Review prod issue 25 min Interrupt:
Urgent
Do I need to
know?
10:00 AM Chatting 10 min Interrupt:
Wasted
10:10 AM Review notes for
business meeting
15 min Urgent
10:30 AM Business meeting 35 min Important Ran long
11:10 AM Emailed actions 20 min Important
11:30 AM Read more email 50 min Routine Time well
spent?
12:20 PM Lunch 20 min Routine
12:40 PM “Work” and eat 20 min Wasted Not focused
while eating
1 PM Prepare weekly
status report
80 min Important Might less be
more?
11
Track &
Prioritize
Value & Urgency
 Track and prioritize for yourself
 Consider both the value and
urgency of tasks
 Weight value over urgency
 Take on the valuable and urgent
ASAP
 Take on the moderately valuable
and moderately urgent as time
permits
 Avoid the least valuable and
least urgent
Escalate
 Escalate to your manager to
prioritize or assist
 Perhaps your manager is asking,
but fails to recall all that has
been asked and remains
outstanding
 Show him your top half dozen or
dozen tasks
 Come prepared with problems
and possible solutions
 Ask for help!
Value
High Medium Low
Urgency
High 1 3 6
Medium 2 5 8
Low 4 7 9
Key ASAP If Time Avoid
Relative
Priority
Risk OverValue
 Project risk more important than
business value
 Especially during early phases of
project
 Critical to drive down technical
and business risks
 Don’t focus on risks with low
likelihood and impact
 Risk measures likelihood and
impact
Low Hanging Fruit
 Low effort if drives down project
risk or delivers high value makes
sense
 Otherwise low effort yields little
benefit and acts as distraction
 Persistent focus on low hanging
fruit can divert attention from
strategic goal
 Persistent focus on low hanging
fruit can lead to draining
resources
Likelihood
Likely Moderate Unlikely
Impact
Major
Moderate
Minor
Risk High Medium Low
Low Effort
Paradox
Pareto Rule:
20% effort yields
80% results
Low hanging fruit may lead to sub-optimal solution
Sometimes initial investment required to achieve better outcome
BlockTime
RecurringTime
 Block time for routine email late
morning and late afternoon
 Block time for quiet hour at start
or end of day to complete
routine or priority tasks
 Block time weekly or bi-weekly
for recurring priority, ideally
close to deadline
 Set office hours for recurring
distractions
OneTime
 Block afternoon for urgent and
critical tasks
 Block time for self and others
 Cancel other meetings to clarify
priority
Communication
Weaponsofmassinterruption
forinstantmiscommunication
Outlook
 Set expectation that email read same day or
within 24 hours, but not ASAP
 Use when not urgent, otherwise use instant
messaging
 When email chain reaches 6 back and forth
schedule a meeting
 Copy those that need to know and spare the rest
 Remove yourself from unneeded distribution lists
 Turn off email pop-ups
 Insure Subject title relevant
 State your point or your ask in first sentence
 Leverage Rules to organize and filter email
Problems:
 Email consumes increasing portion of everyone’s
day
 Generally read as LIFO; no effective, simple
prioritization
 More and more email goes unread or only
skimmed
Messaging
 Set expectation that instant messaging
interrupts and should be important and urgent
 Use when urgent, otherwise send email
 If message not clear, pick up the phone or walk to
their desk
 Invite others and share desktop when it makes
sense
 Leverage “do not disturb” if need to focus
Meetings
 Prepare ahead of time
 Invite those that need to attend
 Come with set agenda
 Get to the point, stay on point
 Reach conclusions, summarize actions
 Start on time, end on time
Mobile
 Put away or silence personal cell phones
WorkSmarter,
Not Harder
LeanTools
Voice of Customer: tool for identifying requirements
 Who, What, Why, When, Where
5 Whys: tool identifying for fundamental root causes
 Ask “why?” repeatedly (until blame management)
Fishbone: tool identifying for multiple root causes
 Man, Material, Machine, Method, Mother Nature, Measurement, Management
5S: tool for organizing work & work environment
 Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain
Types of Waste: tool for identifying waste
 DOWNTIME: Defect, Overdone, Waiting, Neglect, Transport, Inventory, Motion,
Excess
A3 Problem: tool for solving small problems
 Single page, big sheet
 Theme, Problem Statement, Current State, Root Cause, Hypothesis, Target
State, Expected Benefit, Roadmap, Reflection
Value Stream Map: tool for identifying value & waste
 Value Add, Non Value But Required, Non Value
 Cycle Time = Activity Time + Wait Time
SIPOC: tool for flowcharting process
 Supplier > Input > Process > Output > Consumer
Brainstorming: tool for identifying creative options
Lean Process
CustomerValue
- Ask the Right Questions, Solve the Right
Problems
- No More, No Less
Value Stream
- Build RightThing, BuildThing Right
- Maximize Work Not Done
Flow
- LimitWork In Progress
- Manage Workflow, Not Schedules
Pull
- Just InTime or Last Responsible Moment
- Learn First, Fail Fast
- Start Small, Scale Fast (RUP)
- Think LongTerm,Act ShortTerm
Perfection
- Pay Attention to the Details
- Don’tTolerate Defects
- Quality Reduces Cost & Schedule
Modern
Work Practices
Overloading
Ticketing
Overloading Sometimes Efficient
Projects, teams and individuals
overloaded with too many tasks
 Goal: value added work will be
completed and non-value added
work will be eliminated
 Side Effects: successful projects
and teams renewed;
unsuccessful projects and teams
cancelled or disbanded
Success largely determined by
value delivered
Ticketing Usually Inefficient
Modern ticketing systems create a
bureaucratic barrier to entry
 Goal: encourage individuals to
learn workarounds and manage
tasks themselves
 Side Effects: individuals live with
inefficiencies; long backlog of
inventory; tickets move but
issues are not resolved
When effective, acts as Kanban
queue; best when supported by
single team
LeverageAgile
LeverageScrumRoles,Events,
Artifacts
SimpleCollaborationRules
Scrum
 Product Owner sets priorities
 Scrum Master owns blocks
 Team Members volunteer to help
each other
 Daily Scrum notes activities and
distractions
 Sprint Backlog limits work in
progress
 Sprint Backlog tracks all work
 Blocks, Impediments, Obstacles,
Distractions all the same
Collaboration
Team Member empowered to assist, when
request likely < 1 hour and confident can meet
daily scrum goal
 Report as block in daily scrum
Scrum Master empowered to solicit assistance,
when request likely < 1 day and confident team
on track to meet sprint goal
 Log as impediment and report in scrum of
scrums
ProductOwner empowered to set priorities,
when request likely > 1 day or may jeopardize
sprint goal
 Product owner should assess urgency and
importance
 If important, then log as work item and groom
 If not urgent, then prioritize for future sprint
 If urgent, then work with team to swap work
item
Good Enough
Agile
Time Boxing
Agile leverages time-boxing which
promotes good enough, as
opposed to perfection
Sprint duration is fixed, so need to
decide in Sprint Review if story is
good enough, as opposed to just
one more thing
Spikes are time-boxed to fixed
amount of effort; at the end of the
effort conclusions must be drawn,
else commit to another spike in
next sprint
Sprint events are all time-boxed
Lean
NonValue Add But Required
Lean recommends that non-value
added but required activities be
minimized
Do just enough to get it done
«Il meglio è l'inimico del bene.»
The best is the enemy of the good.
Voltaire, 1770
Observed
Practices &
Principles
Past Manager
Managers and leads should expect to “multi-task”
70% Rule reserves 15% for distractions (and 15%
for leave)
20% lead’s bandwidth reserved for strategic
planning
20% team’s bandwidth reserved for IT priorities
Queueing theory: working at or near capacity
exponentially slower
Observed practices when something important &
urgent:
• Works from home
• Cancels meetings
• Delegates routine work
• Stops reading email
• Pairs with SME
My Practices
Prioritization:
Importance: 3-Must, 2-Should, 1-Could, 0-Won’t
Urgency: 3-Now, 2-Soon, 1-Later, 0-Never
Rank = 2 * Importance + Urgency
- 9, 8 ASAP
- 7, 6 time permitting
- 5, 4, 3 wait
- 2, 1, 0 drop
Principles:
• Maximize work not done
• Simplest thing that could work
• Procrastination leads to efficiency
• Do what you know you need, not what you
think you need
• If worth doing, worth doing right, else not
worth doing
• Managers ask twice if they really care
• Good faith estimate, multiply by p
Managing
Multiple
Priorities
 Not multi-tasking, more about saying “no”
 Know your job and your priorities
 Leverage interpersonal practices: Say When (Defer), Learn More (Accept), Ask for
Help (Escalate), Give It Away (Delegate), Suggest Who (Deflect)
 Teach to Fish, those that learn to fish can feed themselves
 Track time spent for self assessment
 Prioritize weighing importance and immediacy
 Risk >Value > Urgency > Effort
 Pareto Rule and Low Effort Paradox
 Block time on your calendar
 Respect your and others time when communicating
 Work smarter, not harder; leverage Lean techniques and principles
 Modern workplace overloads, forcing efficiency, and tickets, creating bureaucracy
 Leverage your product owner, scrum master, team members and team rules
 Consider your manager’s expectations when managing multiple priorities
Rocks,
Pebbles,
Sand
23 General
Adding water is possible, but might
lead to drowning…
Popular Published
Techniques
PomodoroTechnique
GettingThings Done
Outline realistic goals for 2 hours (e.g. morning or afternoon) in 4 half hour increments on notepad
Work in 30 minute increments; set 25 minutes for focused work and 5 minutes for reflection & recap
Work 4 consecutive 30 min increments; then take 15 to 30 min break for distractions & relaxation
Set timer while working to reinforce highly disciplined, focused technique; stop when time runs out
Check goal complete at end of Pomodoro with  or mark incomplete with  if unsuccessful
During Pomodoro, quickly note distractions, then resume focused effort; don’t stop!
Do not allow any disruption whatsoever during the 25 minute work window
- Educate your team and those around you
- Set Do Not Disturb in Communicator and turn off Outlook’s email message popups
During your extended break, answer distractions, talk to others, take a break
- Communication and unrelated topics may trigger brainstorming
- Quiet reflection and day dreaming help creative thinking
Breaks down work into small tasks with measurable goals
- If task incomplete, may need to roll to next Pomodoro or postpone to next Pomodoro set
- Track distractions as Inform, Negotiate, Schedule, or Call Back
Stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing, visualizing are fundamental to the technique
Requires high degree of discipline; discipline usually results in productivity and predictability
Using timer creates physical stimuli that reinforces mental focus & discipline (think Pavlov response)
If “in the zone” may warrant longer focus periods; works well when pair programming
Pomodoro
Technique
Noveltechniqueforfocusingwork
andmanaging distractions
GettingThings
Done
Useatodolisttofreeyourmind!
https://gettingthingsdone.com/what-is-gtd/

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Managing Multiple Priorities

  • 1. Managing Multiple Priorities A mix of personal observations and documented approaches for managing multiple priorities and distractions. David Hanson March 2020 Version 2.0
  • 2. Topics 1. Multi-tasking 2. LimitWIP 3. Learning to Say No 4. KnowYour Job 5. InterpersonalTechniques 6. Deflect, Defer, Delegate 7. Teach to Fish 8. LogTime Spent 9. Track & Prioritize 10. Importance & Urgency 11. Escalate 12. Risk over Easy 13. Pareto Rule 14. Communication 15. Work Smart, Not Hard 16. Overloaded &Ticketing 17. Agile Practices 18. Observed Managers 19. Summary 20. Rocks, Pebbles, Sand 21. PomodoroTechnique 22. GettingThings Done
  • 3. Managing multiple priorities is not multi-tasking Multi-tasking Study after study shows multi-tasking produces lower quality results • Important details are missed • Careless mistakes are made • Alternative options are not considered Multi-tasking extends timelines and delays value • Two tasks worked together maximizes timeline • Instead of completing one task in half the time Task switching adds incremental tax to the time required to complete the task • Adds minutes to re-focus from one task to another and back Successful “multi-taskers”  Many managers and leaders have no choice but to “multi-task”  Observe how they stay focused in a meeting until conclusion reached  Observe how they ignore emails or cancel meetings to achieve a critical goal  Observe how they delegate and solicit support Only 1 in 40 people can actually task switch effectively* * Supertaskers: http://appliedcognition.psych.utah.edu/publications/sup ertasker_ii.pdf
  • 4. LimitWork In Progress Expected Effort: 8 hours/task Task SwitchingOverhead: 25% Working in series 50% faster than working in parallel Parallel Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Effort Duration Task A 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 10 hours 5 days Task B 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 10 hours 5 days Task C 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 10 hours 5 days Task D 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 2 hours 10 hours 5 days Average 5 days Series Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Effort Duration Task A 8 hours 8 hours 1 days Task B 8 hours 8 hours 2 days Task C 8 hours 8 hours 3 days Task D 8 hours 8 hours 4 days Average 2.5 days Stop Starting and Start Finishing
  • 5. Learning to Say No Managing multiple priorities is in large part learning to say “no” …  No might not be “no”  No might be “not me, but him”  No might be “not now, but later”  No might be “not me, but you”  No might be “yes, if you help me”  No might be “yes, if it’s OK with my manager”  No might be “yes”, but “no” for something else  And sometimes, no simply means “no” … while acting cooperatively.
  • 6. KnowYourJob Source:ManagingYourPriorities, Leadership 2000,ZengerMiller Understand your job and your priorities  Brainstorm your tasks and responsibilities  Write your job title in the center  Group related tasks together Evaluate the results  Do others own some tasks?  What gets in the way of your priorities?  What aspects do you control?  What aspects do you have no control?  What actions can you take to gain control? Product Owner Role  20% story writing  20% strategic planning  20% business interface  20% research & teach  20% assisting team Scrum Master Role  20% blocks  20% process & metrics  20% IT interface  20% continuous improvement  20% assisting team
  • 7. DiagramYour Job 7 Scrum Master CrossTeam Interface Facilitate Meetings Study Best Practices Manage- ment Reporting Provide Training Monitor Backlog Schedule Meetings CoachTeam Mentor Individuals Product Owner Proxy Know IT Processes Cross IT Interface Maintain Process Identify Blocks Resolve Blocks Manage Distractions Facilitate UAT Maintain Business Relationships AssistTeam When Behind Maintain Metrics
  • 8. Interpersonal Techniques Source:ManagingYourPriorities, Leadership 2000,ZengerMiller SayWhen Why: Need to be honest when interrupted while working on your own priorities; enables cooperation while ensuring progress on own priorities When: Use when difficult to assert yourself • Person making request is manager • Don’t want to admit can’t do everything • Person won’t take no for answer • Person doesn’t know how busy you are How: 1) Listen attentively 2) Clarify how much time required 3) Decide whether you can handle now 4) If not, say so 5) If appropriate, suggest someone else 6) If can be deferred, agree to a time Learn More Why: Clarify expectations, gather task details, understand relative priorities to manage workload efficiently When: Use when taking over task from or assisting someone more experienced How: 1) Understand task and relationship to big picture 2) Clarify expected results and required standards 3) Agree on roles and responsibilities 4) Specify required resources 5) Review key points and understanding 6) Set date for early progress review
  • 9. Interpersonal Techniques Source:ManagingYourPriorities, Leadership 2000,ZengerMiller Ask For Help Why: Asking for help shows willingness to give best effort, desire to fulfill commitments and maturity to know that you cannot do it alone When: Overloaded with too many demands How: Before the meeting: 1) Analyze current situation 2) List alternatives 3) Request meeting with manager, leader or co-worker At the meeting: 4) Explain the situation using neutral language 5) Discuss possible solutions 6) Agree to actions and follow-up Give It Away Why: Need to provide enough information to insure person delegated task will be successful When: • Spend time on higher priority task • Assign to someone on your team • Transitioning to another task • Supervising someone outside team • Orient new team member How: First check: • Preventing attention to higher priority? • Can someone else master? • Are others qualified and available? • Sufficient time to transition and execute? If doesn’t pass check, but is recurring: • Identify and line up candidates • Break down and delegate a piece Follow How outlined in Learn More, but in reverse
  • 10. Manage, Don’t Do Myinterpersonalextensions Deflect, Defer, Delegate Deflect  I don’t think I know that as well as my former colleague  I need to run to a meeting, but support can help with this task  Sounds like a data issue, did you ask the data team?  You know, my junior colleague just learned this Defer  I’m really busy right now, but I have time later today or tomorrow  Sure I can help, but that will require some time, can you send me an invite  When do you need it? Delegate  Does another team member have bandwidth?  Does a co-op or intern want to learn?  Here’s my opportunity to pass along something else!  Delegating to the floor… Bait & Switch Invest in the long-term FairTrade  Sure I can help. Can you help me (now or later)?  Sure I can help, but first I need… Teach to Fish  Are they likely to come back? Maybe best to show them how to help themselves.  Is someone else likely to need help? Maybe if you teach someone else, there will be a bigger pool to help. Where to Fish  For faster response, next time, contact support and escalate to me  Best if you ask my manager who’s best to help out Self Help  What did you try? Did you try this and that?  I’d google this or that, if I were you
  • 11. TrackTime Spent Source:ManagingYourPriorities, Leadership 2000,ZengerMiller  Wonder where the time goes?  Never get to important tasks?  Unable to complete anything?  Frequently interrupted?  Derailed by shifting priorities?  Spend a day or a week logging every activity  Log start time & time spent on each activity  Clearly note interruptions  Rank: Important, Urgent, Routine,Wasted  Comment how time could have been managed  Analyze distribution of activity type and interruptions  Could interpersonal techniques be leveraged?  Are there patterns? Time Activity Spent Type Comment 8:30 AM Timesheet, Calendar, Scrum 20 min Routine Log time weekly? 8:50 AM Read some email 25 min Routine Time well spent? 9:15 AM Attend Scrum 20 min Routine 15 min should be enough 9:35 AM Review prod issue 25 min Interrupt: Urgent Do I need to know? 10:00 AM Chatting 10 min Interrupt: Wasted 10:10 AM Review notes for business meeting 15 min Urgent 10:30 AM Business meeting 35 min Important Ran long 11:10 AM Emailed actions 20 min Important 11:30 AM Read more email 50 min Routine Time well spent? 12:20 PM Lunch 20 min Routine 12:40 PM “Work” and eat 20 min Wasted Not focused while eating 1 PM Prepare weekly status report 80 min Important Might less be more? 11
  • 12. Track & Prioritize Value & Urgency  Track and prioritize for yourself  Consider both the value and urgency of tasks  Weight value over urgency  Take on the valuable and urgent ASAP  Take on the moderately valuable and moderately urgent as time permits  Avoid the least valuable and least urgent Escalate  Escalate to your manager to prioritize or assist  Perhaps your manager is asking, but fails to recall all that has been asked and remains outstanding  Show him your top half dozen or dozen tasks  Come prepared with problems and possible solutions  Ask for help! Value High Medium Low Urgency High 1 3 6 Medium 2 5 8 Low 4 7 9 Key ASAP If Time Avoid
  • 13. Relative Priority Risk OverValue  Project risk more important than business value  Especially during early phases of project  Critical to drive down technical and business risks  Don’t focus on risks with low likelihood and impact  Risk measures likelihood and impact Low Hanging Fruit  Low effort if drives down project risk or delivers high value makes sense  Otherwise low effort yields little benefit and acts as distraction  Persistent focus on low hanging fruit can divert attention from strategic goal  Persistent focus on low hanging fruit can lead to draining resources Likelihood Likely Moderate Unlikely Impact Major Moderate Minor Risk High Medium Low
  • 14. Low Effort Paradox Pareto Rule: 20% effort yields 80% results Low hanging fruit may lead to sub-optimal solution Sometimes initial investment required to achieve better outcome
  • 15. BlockTime RecurringTime  Block time for routine email late morning and late afternoon  Block time for quiet hour at start or end of day to complete routine or priority tasks  Block time weekly or bi-weekly for recurring priority, ideally close to deadline  Set office hours for recurring distractions OneTime  Block afternoon for urgent and critical tasks  Block time for self and others  Cancel other meetings to clarify priority
  • 16. Communication Weaponsofmassinterruption forinstantmiscommunication Outlook  Set expectation that email read same day or within 24 hours, but not ASAP  Use when not urgent, otherwise use instant messaging  When email chain reaches 6 back and forth schedule a meeting  Copy those that need to know and spare the rest  Remove yourself from unneeded distribution lists  Turn off email pop-ups  Insure Subject title relevant  State your point or your ask in first sentence  Leverage Rules to organize and filter email Problems:  Email consumes increasing portion of everyone’s day  Generally read as LIFO; no effective, simple prioritization  More and more email goes unread or only skimmed Messaging  Set expectation that instant messaging interrupts and should be important and urgent  Use when urgent, otherwise send email  If message not clear, pick up the phone or walk to their desk  Invite others and share desktop when it makes sense  Leverage “do not disturb” if need to focus Meetings  Prepare ahead of time  Invite those that need to attend  Come with set agenda  Get to the point, stay on point  Reach conclusions, summarize actions  Start on time, end on time Mobile  Put away or silence personal cell phones
  • 17. WorkSmarter, Not Harder LeanTools Voice of Customer: tool for identifying requirements  Who, What, Why, When, Where 5 Whys: tool identifying for fundamental root causes  Ask “why?” repeatedly (until blame management) Fishbone: tool identifying for multiple root causes  Man, Material, Machine, Method, Mother Nature, Measurement, Management 5S: tool for organizing work & work environment  Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize, Sustain Types of Waste: tool for identifying waste  DOWNTIME: Defect, Overdone, Waiting, Neglect, Transport, Inventory, Motion, Excess A3 Problem: tool for solving small problems  Single page, big sheet  Theme, Problem Statement, Current State, Root Cause, Hypothesis, Target State, Expected Benefit, Roadmap, Reflection Value Stream Map: tool for identifying value & waste  Value Add, Non Value But Required, Non Value  Cycle Time = Activity Time + Wait Time SIPOC: tool for flowcharting process  Supplier > Input > Process > Output > Consumer Brainstorming: tool for identifying creative options Lean Process CustomerValue - Ask the Right Questions, Solve the Right Problems - No More, No Less Value Stream - Build RightThing, BuildThing Right - Maximize Work Not Done Flow - LimitWork In Progress - Manage Workflow, Not Schedules Pull - Just InTime or Last Responsible Moment - Learn First, Fail Fast - Start Small, Scale Fast (RUP) - Think LongTerm,Act ShortTerm Perfection - Pay Attention to the Details - Don’tTolerate Defects - Quality Reduces Cost & Schedule
  • 18. Modern Work Practices Overloading Ticketing Overloading Sometimes Efficient Projects, teams and individuals overloaded with too many tasks  Goal: value added work will be completed and non-value added work will be eliminated  Side Effects: successful projects and teams renewed; unsuccessful projects and teams cancelled or disbanded Success largely determined by value delivered Ticketing Usually Inefficient Modern ticketing systems create a bureaucratic barrier to entry  Goal: encourage individuals to learn workarounds and manage tasks themselves  Side Effects: individuals live with inefficiencies; long backlog of inventory; tickets move but issues are not resolved When effective, acts as Kanban queue; best when supported by single team
  • 19. LeverageAgile LeverageScrumRoles,Events, Artifacts SimpleCollaborationRules Scrum  Product Owner sets priorities  Scrum Master owns blocks  Team Members volunteer to help each other  Daily Scrum notes activities and distractions  Sprint Backlog limits work in progress  Sprint Backlog tracks all work  Blocks, Impediments, Obstacles, Distractions all the same Collaboration Team Member empowered to assist, when request likely < 1 hour and confident can meet daily scrum goal  Report as block in daily scrum Scrum Master empowered to solicit assistance, when request likely < 1 day and confident team on track to meet sprint goal  Log as impediment and report in scrum of scrums ProductOwner empowered to set priorities, when request likely > 1 day or may jeopardize sprint goal  Product owner should assess urgency and importance  If important, then log as work item and groom  If not urgent, then prioritize for future sprint  If urgent, then work with team to swap work item
  • 20. Good Enough Agile Time Boxing Agile leverages time-boxing which promotes good enough, as opposed to perfection Sprint duration is fixed, so need to decide in Sprint Review if story is good enough, as opposed to just one more thing Spikes are time-boxed to fixed amount of effort; at the end of the effort conclusions must be drawn, else commit to another spike in next sprint Sprint events are all time-boxed Lean NonValue Add But Required Lean recommends that non-value added but required activities be minimized Do just enough to get it done «Il meglio è l'inimico del bene.» The best is the enemy of the good. Voltaire, 1770
  • 21. Observed Practices & Principles Past Manager Managers and leads should expect to “multi-task” 70% Rule reserves 15% for distractions (and 15% for leave) 20% lead’s bandwidth reserved for strategic planning 20% team’s bandwidth reserved for IT priorities Queueing theory: working at or near capacity exponentially slower Observed practices when something important & urgent: • Works from home • Cancels meetings • Delegates routine work • Stops reading email • Pairs with SME My Practices Prioritization: Importance: 3-Must, 2-Should, 1-Could, 0-Won’t Urgency: 3-Now, 2-Soon, 1-Later, 0-Never Rank = 2 * Importance + Urgency - 9, 8 ASAP - 7, 6 time permitting - 5, 4, 3 wait - 2, 1, 0 drop Principles: • Maximize work not done • Simplest thing that could work • Procrastination leads to efficiency • Do what you know you need, not what you think you need • If worth doing, worth doing right, else not worth doing • Managers ask twice if they really care • Good faith estimate, multiply by p
  • 22. Managing Multiple Priorities  Not multi-tasking, more about saying “no”  Know your job and your priorities  Leverage interpersonal practices: Say When (Defer), Learn More (Accept), Ask for Help (Escalate), Give It Away (Delegate), Suggest Who (Deflect)  Teach to Fish, those that learn to fish can feed themselves  Track time spent for self assessment  Prioritize weighing importance and immediacy  Risk >Value > Urgency > Effort  Pareto Rule and Low Effort Paradox  Block time on your calendar  Respect your and others time when communicating  Work smarter, not harder; leverage Lean techniques and principles  Modern workplace overloads, forcing efficiency, and tickets, creating bureaucracy  Leverage your product owner, scrum master, team members and team rules  Consider your manager’s expectations when managing multiple priorities
  • 23. Rocks, Pebbles, Sand 23 General Adding water is possible, but might lead to drowning…
  • 25. Outline realistic goals for 2 hours (e.g. morning or afternoon) in 4 half hour increments on notepad Work in 30 minute increments; set 25 minutes for focused work and 5 minutes for reflection & recap Work 4 consecutive 30 min increments; then take 15 to 30 min break for distractions & relaxation Set timer while working to reinforce highly disciplined, focused technique; stop when time runs out Check goal complete at end of Pomodoro with  or mark incomplete with  if unsuccessful During Pomodoro, quickly note distractions, then resume focused effort; don’t stop! Do not allow any disruption whatsoever during the 25 minute work window - Educate your team and those around you - Set Do Not Disturb in Communicator and turn off Outlook’s email message popups During your extended break, answer distractions, talk to others, take a break - Communication and unrelated topics may trigger brainstorming - Quiet reflection and day dreaming help creative thinking Breaks down work into small tasks with measurable goals - If task incomplete, may need to roll to next Pomodoro or postpone to next Pomodoro set - Track distractions as Inform, Negotiate, Schedule, or Call Back Stages of planning, tracking, recording, processing, visualizing are fundamental to the technique Requires high degree of discipline; discipline usually results in productivity and predictability Using timer creates physical stimuli that reinforces mental focus & discipline (think Pavlov response) If “in the zone” may warrant longer focus periods; works well when pair programming Pomodoro Technique Noveltechniqueforfocusingwork andmanaging distractions