Sunday, August 26, 2012

Keeping our noses to the grindstone

It used to be viewed as good when one kept his/her "nose to the grindstone". Singular, fixed focus on a task until it was completed as planned was a good thing. This is the approach used in old school project management where meeting the triple constraint (schedule, budget, specs) was THE criterion for success.

But that is not the case anymore so I find myself saying the old baseball mantra instead: "Keep your eye on the ball". This is because the pace of work constantly varies (fastballs, change-ups) and projects are frequently throwing us curveballs (changes in state of the art, strategy alterations, new challenges from competitors, etc.).

And heaven knows we encounter our share of screwballs too.

So while we still need to make thorough plans, we also must be ready to react and adapt. If we prepare for contingencies properly and do keep our eyes on the ball maybe we'll hit one out of the park now and then.

...and don't even get me started about all that requires our attention before we step into the batter's box (game situation, positioning of fielders, signs from our coaches, etc., etc.)

If our noses are to the grindstone we'll miss everything else going on around us, and that's no longer viewed as ok.


Monday, August 6, 2012

This has been known for a long time but...

A lot of non-profits have people who are in high burnout positions. We've known for quite a while that people like social workers historically have suffered high rates of burnout. We've been aware that this is the case for work in which there is high pressure, little in the way of tangible rewards, and difficulty finding unambiguous successes.

What we have not heard a lot about is how having a sense of purpose and accomplishment help the organization's bottom line. An article at the Harvard Business Review Blog Network by Susan David adds to the old discussion about the importance of people seeing how their work fits into the big picture, and how the satisfaction of being appreciated for completing work bears far-reaching fruit. The article is entitled "Is Busyness Bad for Business?".
Here's the link: