Daily Archives: July 1, 2010

A question I get quite often

“How do you prioritize your work with so many things needing to get done every day?”

Wow, that’s a good one. It’s also a very challenging issue. In today’s environment, issues are flying at you all the time and coming from all directions. As an IT manager, many of these issues are things that happen that are beyond your control.

Here is what I try to do; works for me and will for you.

Categorize issues, projects, open items, etc. into one of three categories. Call them “A, B, or C”, “High, Medium, Low”, or “Critical, Needed, Nice to have” or anything that makes sense for you, , , but get your long list in some sort of priority.

List all of the open issues you have every week and reprioritize them into High, Medium, or Low (or the other descriptions we mentioned).

High items must be critical and absolutely required to complete soon.

Medium items are needed but are not necessarily critical.

Low items are good to have but don’t have the level of importance as the other two groups.

From the list of High items, prioritize each of the issues from top to bottom. In other words, number them from #1, #2, etc until all are sequenced in rank of importance as you see them. The trick is that you need to work on the absolutely most important issues first and get them off your list. Knocking off some of the issues on your list frees you up to tackle more.

Target the highest priority in the list to get it done or at least to the point required before working on something else. Be aware, however, that you normally have several balls in the air to juggle at one time. That’s OK as long as you are getting some things completed and off your plate, , , otherwise, you will ultimately be juggling too many balls until some of them start crashing to the ground.

Review all the items in all category groups to determine if they are where they need to be. If there are things that help you or your team’s productivity so you can get more things completed, you might consider placing a lesser important item ahead of others so you can do more later.

Sometimes, you might throw an easy project to the front of the list simply because you or your team need to see some accomplishment and successes taking place. Nothing motivates you more than to see positive results.

Make a habit of knocking off two or three major items from your list every day and you will slowly start to make big strides. The difference here is that you are being much more proactive and taking conscious steps in focusing on important issues you have quantified. Believe me, others will see the results.

IT Management Model – Ready, Aim, Fire

Ready, , , Aim, , , Fire !

Sounds as easy as 1-2-3 doesn’t it ?

Logical as can be – right ?

It’s how we all manage, isn’t it ?

Well, , , not quite.

There are quite a few management styles. You can probably put the following “management style tags” on a few managers you know:

A.  Ready – Ready – Ready – Aim, , ,  Ready – Ready – Aim, , ,  Fire
The manager who just  can’t, , ,  seem, , ,  to pull, , ,  the trigger.

B.  Fire-Ready-Aim
The manager who shoots first and asks questions later, sometimes known as the “quick shot artist”.

The Ready-Aim-Fire manager is the type we need to be. This manager identifies the specific target he needs to hit (develops a strategy), prepares to hit that target by taking careful aim (plans and prepares), and fires with accuracy (implements the plan).

This management style is much more effective, “breaks less glass”, and invariably has a much more productive organization than other managers who don’t take the time to plan or who can’t make a decision.

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From the book, IT Management Models

Description:
Clearly identify your target, develop a plan of attack, and finally implement your solution. There is a real benefit by evaluating a situation and taking the time to prepare your strategy before “pulling the trigger”. At the same time, “analysis paralysis” can be just as bad as firing too quickly.

Manage in a Ready – Aim – Fire mode and you will suffer fewer “casualties” and achieve many more successes.

Key points:

  • “Shooting from the hip” creates breakage
  • The basics
    • Ready – Quantify and understand your objectives
    • Aim – Clearly define your plan
    • Fire – After evaluating consequences, implement with vigor
  • Lead by example and coach others to follow this process

Discussion:
When you prepare to make a decision or take action on something, use a “ready – aim – fire” approach to save yourself from a lot of pain and aggravation.

There may be situations where you have to react so quickly that you don’t have time to prepare and take aim at what you’re “shooting at”, but those scenarios are rare.

Create an environment where your organization’s actions are planned by establishing processes to support a more predictable approach than a “knee jerk” reaction.

“Shooting from the hip” creates breakage – When managers don’t take time to prepare and clearly define their targets, they accomplish less and often break things which has even more negative impact on the team’s productivity. It also damages client satisfaction.

The basics – Use a simple approach as follows:

  • Ready – Define and understand your objectives
  • Aim – Clearly define your plan
  • Fire – After evaluating consequences, implement with vigor

Lead by example and coach others to follow this process – Managers who use a “ready-aim-fire” approach are teaching their employees by example the proper way to address issues that come up. Anyone can shoot blindly when a problem arises in trying to resolve the problem, but the person who identifies the problem or issue, looks at the options available to solve the issue, and assesses the implications before “pulling the trigger” will get much more accomplished than the “hip shooters”.

When you have “quick fire” artists in your organization, reach out and help them understand the issues they create by reacting to issues before they have the facts and have analyzed the ramifications of their actions. You will be helping your team achieve more success as well as developing your employee to be more successful.

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To learn more about the 72 models in IT Management Models, go to www.mde.net/cio/page20.html