Death by Distraction: 3 Ways to Avoid it

A huge number of projects, usually small ones, die ugly drawn-out deaths simply from distraction – and nobody knows.  Yeah, people get distracted and forget them!  It’s true, I’ve seen it happen dozens of times.  Here’s how it happens. First, the big boss decides he wants something.  A new product or policy.  A new way of doing things.  An improvement in procedure.  He’s sure it will save the company money, so he launches a new initiative (a project) to get it.  He assigns it to one of his people, and expects to hear some status in a while.  FIRST MISTAKE! The employeee may have no strong allegence to the new initiative, and gets distracted and never completes it.  He’s bored, and doesn’t want to mess with it.  The boss forgets he asked, and the project is effectively dead.  Every seen that happen?  That what I thought…  So, how do you fix it?   Tip #1: Document it. If you don’t write down your project initiatives, they can easily be sabotaged by bored employees.  If there is no record of them, employees can safely ignore them without any consequences.  And they will.   Tip #2: Don’t pile on. Giving your employees too many projects means they won’t do them when asked.  I’ve seen managers throw so many projects at employees that they simply ignore them until asked later.  If the big boss never asks, he must not want it badly enough.  They simply wait him out and deal with only the important ones when he asks.  Yikes!   Tip #3: Reduce the chain links If Joe is to do the job, but needs input from Britnney and Travis, and they can’t get to it until Keyshawn obtains his status from Lisa who gets her materials from Joe, you may never get anything.  Don’t believe it happens?  It does.  There are sometimes so many links in the project chain that the effort fizzles out, simply because one person can’t get what they need.  Of course, they never bother to find out why, but you need to realize this can happen.   Bottom line: you need a project champion who walks everything through its paces.  If you’re the big boss, that may be you.  No champion?  Well… chances are the project will die of distraction. –newshirt