Balancing information with action is a difficult balancing act. We have yet to work with an individual or a team where they feel like there is enough time in the day. Their time is spent on a number of different projects as well as trying to handle normal (if there is such a thing) ongoing operations. Some of the projects must be done for compliance reasons, while others may be to handle a crisis. Other projects are operational in nature while others have a strategic focus. Every day, every week and every month, there are things left undone that require them to find ways to accomplish more. They are in The Time Trap.
While time management helps, we find that many individuals and teams end up with two extremes. At one end of the spectrum, projects are rushed without fully evaluating the obstacles, thinking it through, and determining how to get the best result. If a few more hours had been invested with the right process, there might have been success instead of a costly failure.
At the other extreme, we recently had a team tell us it would take 100 man hours to research whether or not they should do a possible project. We argued that they should invest 10 hours into four different possibilities. They would learn more, spend much less time and have some alternate plans if one of the options did not work. They insisted on spending 100 hours to analyze the one project. After 115 hours of time investment and beginning the stages of implementation, they realized the financial results of the product were negative because the market had turned. They had no alternative product ready to go as a backup.
What we have found, particularly in private business, is that it is important to invest enough time to get 85% of the information, then begin to test drive the ideas. Use the test drive to determine how realistic a project is and utilize a risk management process to assess risks that would result in non-completion of the project. This is true whether it is a change in an internal process or a new global product launch. An alternative is to reduce a projects scope for a pilot program.
Many times well meaning employees continue researching, yet their search for 100% of the answers and perfect information can stall out projects, wear everyone out, and end up with lots of analysis and no action. It is critical in business, especially today, that timely action is taken since that is where the real wisdom and value resides.
In general, one hour of investment is probably too little, and, in most cases, 100 hours is probably too much. It is also important to have a contingency plan(s) and look at six or seven different possible scenarios (i.e. high demand/low price, low demand/high price, medium demand/low price, etc.).
Having a strategic plan is critical for being able to review a list of current open projects to determine which ones are most effective at reaching your strategic long term goals. The best projects have an immediate positive impact on the company as well as possible great long term results.
The strategic plan, along with a periodic re-prioritizing can keep energy, time and money focused on the right projects. A control process is also needed to ensure the project stays on track and is successful within the budget and time frame necessary. Ultimately, action needs to be taken for the project to gain and keep momentum.
The Comprehensive Independence Builder
If you are interested in learning more about project prioritization, strategic plans, taking action and how it can help you avoid or escape The Time Trap, please contact us.
You may also wish to learn more about our unique process for Business Owners called The Comprehensive Independence BuilderTM, in which we address all of the obstacles you face and help you use innovative strategies to protect and enhance your business, improve your quality of life and better achieve your goals.
To schedule your Independence Exploration Session or for more information on The Time Trap, please contact us at 800-786-4332 ext. 108, or firstname.lastname@example.org.