A Key to Organizational Focus

A Key to Organizational Focus

A Key to Organizational Focus

A common cause for resource conflict lies in understanding the answer to a deceptively simple question: how much is enough?

A staff member may become an overachiever in an attempt to please his or her boss, or to satisfy their own pride by applying ‘more’ to a project than it deserves.

An electrical engineer may try to make an amplifier “just a bit more sensitive,” or an IT specialist may keep working to get a few more messages per second out of a processor. These are both examples of work that doesn’t deliver any appreciable benefit to the company.

A good project manager must know when to push for more performance and when to stop and move onto the next activity. This type of judgement call is how organizations’ financial and marketplace health either thrive or start a downward spiral.

Measurements and metrics offer everyone clear guidelines for balancing project objectives.

When you offer clear and specific metrics, you enhance the project designer’s ability to develop a project plan that supports the organization.

A favorite framework that accommodates the iterative approach of Agile or Scrum lays out three achievement levels for organizational or project objectives. These include:  minimum, target, and stretch metrics as defined below:


Minimum acceptable metrics tell project designers the lowest acceptable value for an objective. They may drop to this measurement under pressure to achieve balance in other areas. By definition, if the project or product cannot meet this minimum criterion, the project should be rejected or abandoned.


The target metric represents the strategic plan’s goals for the area. Once this target is achieved, project designers can focus on other areas. The target metric is the normal, steady-state metric portfolio and project designers should attempt to achieve it.


Stretch metrics are objectives the organization strives to achieve to capture innovative ideas or unplanned opportunities. Frequently, these may represent upper limits that the project designer should not exceed to prevent overloading the resource pool. Achieving stretch metrics should not be the norm. If every project designer attempted to achieve stretch metrics, resource shortages would impair the chances of strategic success.

This model can be employed for all of the categories of objectives: schedule, cost, resource, technical, and quality.

Establishing a framework for balanced objectives allows you to distribute resources based on strategic direction, keeping the entire organization moving ahead.

A company has only so many resources. A good project manager ensures that resources saved in one area are more effectively used in another.

The Horrible Truth(s) About Feedback

As leaders – whether team leaders, project leaders or community leaders  – feedback is an integral  part of your responsibility to your team.

The reality is that it is hard to give feedback – both reinforcing and correcting feedback.

Gail  Golden,  who  specializes in coaching executives and teams of senior leaders, wrote about some of the challenges of feedback https://www.gailgoldenconsulting.com/receiving-critical-feedback/?utm_source=CO1903&utm_content=criticalfeedback&utm_medium=Button&utm_campaign=Email

What  particularly struck me? She isn’t  talking about the giving of feedback  – she focuses on the receiving of feedback.

The first horrible truth about feedback is we need to work on how we receive it – not just how we deliver it. It truly is a gift. Just like that strange looking candle that turned out to have the most heavenly scent, try to consider the gift of feedback based on the spirit in which it is given.

The second horrible truth about feedback is we are always learning how to do a better job at delivering it. In the Harvard Business Review the topic of feedback receives deep coverage – including coverage of changes in perspective about how feedback is or is not effective.  https://hbr.org/2019/03/the-feedback-fallacy

The third horrible truth about feedback is there can be multiple triggers driving both the giving and receiving. In Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen’s book, Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well  (Penguin Books, 2014) they identify 1) truth triggers, 2) relationship triggers, and 3) identity triggers.

Confront these truths, these triggers. Make conscious decisions about how  you will both offer and receive feedback.  As a leader your approach to this critical issue will also serve as the example the rest of your team takes as a cue for how they handle the powerful and sometimes sensitive issue of feedback.

In a leadership-centric approach to project management you can raise your team’s productivity and effectiveness – and feedback can be a critical tool or a harmful weapon.  How will you help your team use feedback more effectively?

Thanks for joining me.


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