Today a client, who I count as a professional friend and generous advocate for my work, got in touch. He works at Associate Director level in a £150Million revenue specialist consultancy. He knows a thing or two about profit delivery within a multi-disciplinary business working very closely with clients and therefore knows a lot about leadership in practical priority management and project management.

He knows how the dynamics of the different interests of the client and the consultant in a contractual relationship adds complexity to the daily priority management decisions that are taken by all parties working towards the shared goal.

He also knows that when it comes to managing competing priorities there is always a tension between the ‘Project World’ and the ‘Operational World’ of work.

The reason he got in touch is that he is currently working through the productivity issues within yet another complexity common to many businesses. The complexity of co-location with a client. 

Now, this is nothing new to him, his team or many of you reading this. What is laudable, and is probably a contributing factor in the trajectory of his career, is that he is stepping back from ‘Normal’ stepping back from ‘Business as usual’ to question how he can impact productivity improvement within that environment.

It’s a big ask. Mashing the culture, power play and commercial interests of the client with that of his firm. Mashing the competing priorities of the project and operational worlds, mashing the dynamics of conceptual work with the ‘Get it out the door today at any cost’ work.

Some would think it worthy of a process reengineering or change management project in itself.

Most would shrug their shoulders, consider it as ‘Normal’ and accept their fate.

Not him, though.

He also knows that demonstrating leadership and delivering high quality results within complex work environments and demanding workloads has more to do with the way he and his people choose, control and deliver their priorities on a day-to-day basis.

It has more to do with the small, simple, well thought out process improvements in the way we do work, more in line with kaizen than change management.

It has more to do with him and his people being, what he calls, a ‘Productivity Virus’ that will spread within the client team when they see the impact of his priority decisions, management and delivery.

I’d like to think that it may also have something to do with the training we provided him and many others in the business on managing competing priorities with Microsoft Outlook.

One of the resources he investigated as part of this initiative was the excellent TED talk by Jason Fried on ‘Why work doesn’t happen at work’ As my friend says, he now sees M&Ms in a new light!

Untill next time, cheers,