Posted by: kerrywills | September 10, 2010

Swimming hard, but not going anywhere

People work hard on projects. Every project that I have been on has people who work long hours, come in on weekends and are always running from one task/meeting to another. Yet a lot of times the net result is not equivalent to the effort put into the work – dates get missed, deliverables are incomplete, and quality is poor.

Is your team swimming well, or drowning in work?

I suspect that this is because, while people work hard they don’t always work smart. I like to use the example of someone swimming. They can wave their arms and legs frantically and use up a lot of energy (i.e. work hard), but not necessarily move anywhere (i.e. make progress).

Members of the project team need to work intelligently, and in my opinion, it is the role of the Project Manager to make sure that they are. Examples that a Project Manager can facilitate include…

  • Clarity of roles and responsibilities to avoid overlaps and redundant work
  • A clear plan that everyone is aware of (and contributed to) so team members understand expectations and upcoming work
  • Clarity of priorities so team members are not working on low-impact activities
  • Avoiding wasteful meetings or non value added activities

There is also the aspect of motivating team members to continue to work (i.e. swim) to meet project goals. So keep in mind that we, as Project Managers, are the swimming coach that needs to make sure that our teams are efficient swimmers who can continue going for a long time.  You can decide whether or not they need to shave fully to be part of the swim team…..


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by James McGovern, Jeff Ryan. Jeff Ryan said: On working smart as well as just hard… […]

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