Your last point is so dead on it's frightening. Our start-up is in month nine with five founders who have been working 15 hour days for the past 6 months but the CEO/Original founder is still working his "day job" as an executive at another company. However each week we spend about 30% of our time keeping him updated and filling out all the reports that he wouldn't need if he was there full time. Of course when you are losing 1/3 of your time every week people are going to miss deadlines more often than not and of course his big MBA tells him that it can't possibly be his fault. At the end of the day I have come to appreciate just how valuable the middle manager is to any company and especially in start-up land to build a great company you need great people. Too bad no business type with an MBA is smart enough to realize that the team's productivity takes precedence over doing the top dawg's dirty work. Gotta love corporate America.
i'm surprised that readings blogs about startups is not on the top the list, if it was I'd be feeling quite productive : )
i would add some measure of proximity to revenue generation - there are many things that can be done and may be excellent features for the future, but are massively trivial when the cash clock is ticking down.
Great post - I am constantly facing an issue with one of my colleagues - he couldnt sort his tasks and his decising about priorities really sucks. This would maybe help.
This article hit closer to home once I realized you're an engineer and you are speaking to engineers. As a red blooded entrepreneur I can't tell you how frustrated I get when technical people putting in a lot of time to do something that will impress engineers, but the customers can care less.
It's makes me feel like I'm watching a movie that is perfectly produced and filmed, but has no plot.
I think I have something to offer here.
I do a lot of wortk with start up entrepreneurs -one focus is upon personality and attitude. many people who develop technicical skills do so because they have the capacity to study independently and keep focused. This is a great strength, but at times this means people like engineers will call upon that independent thinking style when challnged in business. I know this because I studied for years, locked away in a lab and then a bedroom, writing up my Phd. I quite like the potential to work alone and get into techy stuff. I ahve had to learn some tough lessons when it comes to listening to the customer rather than my 'intelligence'.
The "wow" factor? I was involved in a design project once, in which the managers desperately needed to see visible progress. I didn't have much authority then, but I could see it coming. What they were trying to do was very difficult, technically. The mistake they made was always steering the effort into a place where visible progress could be made. There were several gritty tech hurdles, but none of these would receive attention since work on them did not appear to the managers to produce visible progress. So, I challenge your point #4 - that it must not mean this. I don't know what kind of startup you have, but you must determine early, what the essential hurdles are, then focus everything on those goals. Those are the things that without them, it's like driving fast on the wrong road. To help you understand this, I recomment The Wright Way, by Eppler.
When facing multiple top priority deadlines, I have benefited from asking myself which of these would cause the most grief if it went entirely undone. It helped on occasion to see things in this way.
I would also caution against thinking it is better to make a little progress on EVERYTHING. This seems to stem from fear of leaving ANYTHING entirely undone.
In actuality, we seldom know with certainty what the outcome will actually be, but I have found comparing the urgency of different tasks to be one of the most difficult.
Test your thinking!
Good stuff. I'd like to add that if it's a close call on the factors you listed that you get the task done that you are dreading the most. A big part of enjoying my daily job is not having some dark cloud looming over me. So I get the monkey off my back as fast as I can.
These are all great comment guys. I believe that you are all right about the issue regarding creating tasks that will keep your team productively engaged. Managing employees and employee satisfaction is equally as important as hitting deadlines. At OnCard Marketing, we make a point to ensure that our tech team has a say in what gets done first given their idea of importance and difficulty level. We let them choose what gets done first second or third depending on our overall goals of execution. It leads to a flatter management structure and a more broad-based communication across various employees.
I really appreciate this post on prioritizing. Entrepreneurs are always looking for better ways to do the same thing. So, I have featured this post on our content site:www.norhtstarthinktank.com
in the Research and Planning category.
Thanks again for this useful bit of information!
Hi! It is really healpful for me. Thanks and good luck!
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I really enjoyed this article on learning how to prioritize more efficiently. I have shared it with my readers on the Northstar Thinktank site:
Thanks, and keep up the good work!