Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Urgent or Important?

Recently I had spent some time working at a new client (old client for my company, new client for me). I spent 3 weeks there getting familiar with the environment and am now working off site.

I was struck by how "busy" the place was. There were people on the phone constantly, thousands of mails flying around, the project is way behind schedule, the environment is a little mad, maybe chaotic would be a bit strong to say, but it is on its way there.

It just does not seem as if a lot of though and critical, deep and creative thinking has been brought to bear on the project. People are just going from one crisis to the next, doing what is urgent all the time and failing to address what is important. Either they don't have time, or they deem what is urgent to be important and can't really tell the difference!

What is interesting however, is that from the client's perspective, lots of things are happening. People are doing things, working hard, appearing very busy - but not necessarily getting things done.

Contrast that with an environment that is calm, smooth and running as planned. How would that look? A little boring in comparison. People would not appear busy at all. They'll be sitting at their desks working, not talking to much on the phone, not be stressed, and have everything under control. The client may interpret this as being lazy and not working, because we certainly don't appear so busy.


Unknown said...


Michael Wiles said...

hilarious, yes!

Ms Free said...

hahaha - you guys make me laugh. I know we're on different projects - but mine is the same from crisis to crisis - I strive to make it calm and stress free. But what you say is true - should I ever accomplish that - the client (and colleagues) will think that the team and I are not working hard enough. (I've already seen glimpses of this when we get it right for a week or so). So - how do we change the perception? Or do we just give up?

Peter said...

I agree, nothing much gets done in development when everyone is rushing around, you need extended time to focus. Getting people to understand this is another story though. We have trouble getting people to adhere to periods of non-interruptability, and we're all developers so we understand the effect it has.

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