How should managers avoid the activity trap?

Thursday, September 26th, 2013 By Jack Nevison

Are you worried that your team members will get caught in the activity trap? You should be! Projects sometimes get off to a fast start with little or no consideration of the other projects in the portfolio. This can result in teams so focused on their individual projects that they lose track of the portfolio's overall business goals.

As Mark Miller, Vice President for Organizational Effectiveness at Chick-fil-A​, recently pointed out on his blog, you should never confuse activity with accomplishment.

One of your most important jobs as a project manager is to set priorities and keep the team's tasks focused on them. Once tasks are assigned, Miller says, integrate them into your calendar to make sure they actually get done.

In addition, Miller suggests that it's important to delegate when necessary so that you and your team have the time to focus on what matters. Sometimes, it even helps to completely outsource a sub-project. Miller writes about how he used to stage events at Chick-fil-A before deciding to hire an outside vendor to run them. Because events were not the chain's main focus, they were a distraction from its core business. By allowing a third party to take over the task, Chick-fil-A "freed up internal capacity to focus on other things."

Finally, Miller reminds managers to constantly reevaluate their strategies to make sure that the project teams are pursuing the projects that add the most value as they are completed. As Miller says, "We get no credit for doing the wrong things well."

New Leaf's program, "Chartering Projects: Managing the Business Priorities of the Project Portfolio" can help you keep your team's priorities in order. Our white papers on earned value will show you how to accurately measure your project's progress.

In addition, you can earn convenient and affordable PDU credits for PMP recertification from New Leaf's white paper quizzes and our QPM series of online games.

"PMI®," PMP®," and "PMBOK®" are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

"QPM™" is a registered mark of New Leaf Project Management. All rights reserved.

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