POSTED : March 21, 2016
BY : Sridhar Peddisetty

Once there was a farmer who discovered that he had lost his watch in the farm. It was not an ordinary watch because it had sentimental value for him. After searching the hay for a long while, he gave up and sought help of a group of children playing outside the barn. He promised that the person who finds it would be rewarded. Hearing this, the children hurried inside the barn, went through and around the hay but still could not find the watch. Just when the farmer was about to give up looking for his watch, a little boy went up to him and asked to be given another chance.The farmer looked at him and thought, “Why not? After all this kid looks sincere enough.” So the farmer sent the little boy back in the barn. After a while the little boy came out with the watch in his hand. The farmer was happy and surprised and so he asked the boy how he succeeded where the rest had failed. The boy replied, “I did nothing but sit on the ground and listen. In the silence, I heard the ticking of the watch and just looked for it in that direction.”

A peaceful mind can think better than a worked up mind. Using the metaphor, a focused project team more often than not, delivers a project successfully. The project team must remain focused on managing value based project goals and stakeholders instead of simply concentrating on budget and scheduling. Below are 5 tips that can be used for a project team to remain focused:

#1. Be clear on the project value: Project delivery is not just about achieving agreed scope, schedule or cost, it’s about delivering value. It’s often percieved that a project team while remaining focused on current work tasks sometimes remain oblivious of the value a project is going to achieve at the end. In most cases, statement of work (sow) or proposal is authored by individual(s) who would likely not be responsible for actual execution of the project. So it’s important for the project team to always be aligned with what would be the end value of the project. A project team needs to have a complete value ‘buy-in’ for them to appreciate their current work tasks.

#2. Break plan into achievable milestones: We all understand that for every journey we embark, milestones help us remain focused. Milestones are the small steps, which leads a project team to the ultimate project goal, whether it be developing a new product or service. Measurable milestones help the project team remain focused and celebrate their achievements along the journey, which goes a long way for a motivated team. Milestones also help the team in executing, checking, planning and acting while keeping tab on quality to ensure alignment with the overall project goal.

#3. Prioritize impediments mapped with value: In my earlier post, Looking At An Impediment From A Value Perspective, I shared how when faced with an impediment, enlarge your vision when looking at the impediment from the perspective of delivering value. Matured project teams view the impediments as tasks, which needs to be completed for respective user stories and the tasks could be updated and prioritized for the value. As a Scrum Master or Project Manager, one needs to know how things get done in the organization and who to speak to when faced with an impediment.

#4. Separate people from the problem: It is very easy to get overwhelmed with frequent pressures of delivering value and that’s when things become defensive for the team. In my earlier post, You Already Have ‘NO’, Go For ‘YES’, I shared how it’s important to keep emotions in-check while delivering and always keeping in mind to respond and not to react. My side of the boat is not leaking’ attitude does not help, so it’s important to separate people from the problem and be rational in identifying solutions for the impediments or dependencies.

#5. Look for continuous improvements: In my earlier post, Value Stream Mapping As A Process Improvement Tool, I shared how “Value Stream Mapping” can be applied as a tool for identifying inefficiencies in the processes. Retrospections are also key in identifying opportunities for continuous improvements. Note that the singular way of doing retrospections does not necessarily fit the culture for all organizations, so it’s very important to customize how the feedback is taken and loop for the continuous improvement is applied.



Similar to how important it is to allow yourself a few minutes of silence to think sharply, the project team needs to be focused for successful delivery of project value. Please share your thoughts on how you manage to keep yourself focused.


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