CADDManager on April 12th, 2016
This entry is part 17 of 17 in the series Adding Value

Think Big – Work Small

Tech managers live in a world that is very large and very small. Technology encompasses so many areas and so many areas impact your environment. You cannot ignore new trends and you cannot embrace every trend. It is a dichotomy that hovers over us as we try to get things done and move things forward.

Tech managers have to see the forest and the trees. They cannot get tied up is the minutia, but they cannot ignore it.  When they plan out the details of their vision for the future, they cannot forget the grand concepts and culture changes that may derail their efforts.

Excellent tech managers must see the big picture while they are managing the details. Small actions move the the big picture forward. Big picture thinking allows you to not get tunnel vision on the task list.  Advancing tech manager must nurture the skill of doing both.

How is that done?big-ben

Start Big – plan out your initiatives with the largest concepts you can think of. Start with a very large target, like “Improve productivity”. Then think of the largest movements you can make to empower that effort. Like “migrate to the current version of software” or “increase training” or “update the standards”. Always checking your next smallest movement with the original target in mind. Revisit the target of productivity as you plan how/who/when/what of it all.

Finish Small – break it apart into the smallest units needed. Units of effort should be defined to get things done. I do not have to define everything down to 15 minute tasks is day long or even week long tasks are good enough. Divide task into steps in getting things done. There are usually three things I use to define how or if I divide a task even smaller.smart-watch

  1. So that you can assign work – have I broken the task down enough so the deliverable is defined and understood by staff.
  2. Dividing work among staff – If one task will take one persons two weeks, can you divide it into smaller task so that two people can work on it and finish sooner? If so, then do it (like not being able to divide up a customization effort because only one person can work on one file or program at a time).
  3. Using the time available – this is usually done when I have to do something myself. I may have 30 minute chunks of available time in a day. So I divide up my deliverables/milestones into items that can be completed in 30 minutes. It might be things as small as making a phone call, writing 50 lines of code, or talking to staff about guidelines. I try to see if I can get something done whenever I have some time to spare (as if I do).

Plan for 80% – Start planning and when you have about 70-80% of the tasks broken out, then start working on them. Don’t take forever to plan out every eventuality. Just make some progress and revisit the plan when each task is done. Group tasks together by function, timeline, staff ability or whatever. Then parse out the work and keep folks motivated.

How does this add value?

Momentum is of extreme value in a tech environment. By thinking big, you do not squash momentum and excitement about achieving a goal with over planning. By working small, you provide enough framework for progress even if the time available is limited.

 

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