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Episode 38 – “Visualization in project prioritization” with Johanna Rothman

The use of visualization in improving project prioritization is the topic of this edition of the Project Management Paradise Podcast and Johnny speaks to Johanna Rothman.

Johanna has written 12 books on Project Management in addition to an excellent blog (see link in the Show Notes) and some online workshops.

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Excepts from Episode 38 – “Visualization in project prioritization”

Many people ask themselves: how am I going to get all of it done? The answer is you cannot get all of it done, but you have to pick and choose what you will get done.

“All of it.”
Senior management often asks project teams and particular people to do more than they can in a six to eight hour day. People don’t get any more than about six hours of technical work done a day due to meetings, emails, etc.

Most managers don’t understand is that the work is different from when they were technical people. They have no conception of how much more the work is today.

Asking people to do one project and then another and then another, and not breaking the requirements down into tiny chunks that we can increase our throughput and get done.

When you have those two problems — the multitasking and the two large chunks — people are overwhelmed with work.

Project managers without modern technical experience don’t understand the risk.
It’s important that project managers for a given project have to understand the risk. They might not know how to write code or the actual task at hand, but they have to understand the project risk otherwise they are not the right project manager.

Visualise your work so that you can say no. Why are people afraid to say no?
We all want to be good team players. We’ve already agreed, or it’s politically incorrect to say no in the organisation, and we want to be able to fulfil everybody else’s desires. We want to succeed at work, and that’s part of achieving. When people are afraid to say no, that’s when they allow themselves to do all this multitasking, which does not work.

How do we say no?
The more you try to do one more thing, the less of anything you can do.

If you say to people, let me show you everything I have and show you how long it might take — a gross estimate, not specific — that’s when they can understand what’s on your plate.

Technical work cannot be multi-tasked — not with extensive stories or requirements. You might be able to work that way if you have minimal requirements.

Explain the value you provide. People may have a hard time understanding how to describe value, but they know it when they see it. What I’ve always said is I’m the best person to do this job, and if I’m telling you I cannot get it done in this amount of time, you should ask yourself: do you want the second best person to do this? Or I have also said if someone else can do it that works.

The waiting states.
We cannot just take in all of the work that exists. We have to say: how are we going to limit what we take in? How are we going to limit what we do today or in any given state?

Too many managers think that the work just flows through the program or project, but too often we have waiting states. A board will show those wait states, pull work, and set limits that a different board might not allow. It will show the work in progress that you naturally will want to finish before you taking on other tasks.

What do you do with the work that you say no to?
This is where you start managing your personal or the project organisation’s portfolio. Should someone do this job? Is the work necessary? Create a better flow of work through the organisation. Set side the work without dropping it.

Show Notes

Connect with Johanne on Linkedin
Check out her 12 books on Project Management
The Cora Platform uses Dashboards and Graphical Displays to aid visualization in project prioritization. To find out more why not request a personalized demo here

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