She’s one of the busiest project managers on the team (Umm – So What?)

I was facilitating a presentation between India and US teams … and near the end of the presentation, a team leader chimed in (with the intent of praising the project manager) saying, “She’s one of the busiest project managers we have on this team.”

My initial reaction to that was, “So what?!?” …

Personally, I’d rather be known as effective much more than busy.

Then today I came across The Pursuit of Busyness

And it seems that being busy is something that is of more perceived value because ‘being busy’ must, of course, mean you’re working on a project or with/for a client … that you ‘are busy’ adding to the firm’s bottom line.

Companies that are full of knowledge workers and that have built cultures that value busyness face a potentially sharp dilemma when it comes to E2.0. These companies stand to benefit a great deal if they can build emergent platforms for collaboration, information sharing, and knowledge creation. But they may be in a particularly bad position to build such platforms not because potential contributors are too busy, but because they don’t want to be seen as not busy enough.

I’m seeing this play out right now. The problems are on several levels – for instance, we have a blog written by a senior leader of the firm yet there’s not feed for it … so, folks have to remember to go to the internal site to read the danged thing.  Having a feed and allowing us to use a reader prog would hugely increase this leader’s blog.   Because one of his concerns is that not enough people are reading his blog.  Well, Duh!!!

Folks to remember to go to the site to read it because – um – they’re too busy. (Admittedly, using RSS feeds and readers won’t remove the ‘pursuit of busyness syndrome’ … yet they’d still increase the number of people who read the blog each day).

So, what does the firm value? The senior leader begins a – let’s say ‘conversation’ on the blog.  Some folks read it and they even respond with comments.  A large number of folks don’t get the information or get involved in the conversations because they’re too busy to remember or whatever.  Then these folks grouse about not being informed or not being included. 

Did you read the blog?

Well, no. I’ve been really busy.

Uh-huh …

Yeah, I’m one of the busiest project managers on the team.

Good for you.  But are you effective?

About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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5 Responses to She’s one of the busiest project managers on the team (Umm – So What?)

  1. Tom Turner says:

    Take the ‘busy’ label to the next obvious level. How many teachers give their students ‘busy’ work. Is the teacher being effective because he/she is ‘busy’ doing work, while his/her students are ‘busy’ doing an assignment. Have they learned effectively?

    Thought so.


  2. Rory says:

    Tom –
    I couldn’t agree more that busy work is not effective – and it’s probably counterproductive to boot.

    And there is something insidious when it comes to companies/firms that value busyness in the form of racking up hours on a client project that really are unecessary … because person X has to continually reinvent the wheel to resolve issues or problems.

    What would be better is some way to capture and manage the information (lessons learned, etc.) so that person X can search for information – and maybe even search pre-emptively. But using E2.0 techs and researching how they can be used and useful are seen as wastes of time.

    Better to be busy than effective is the mantra … and then they complain when there’s too much overhead – and now must cut costs or reduce staff and the like.

    It’s a prescription for defeat no matter how you slice it.

  3. Desktopjunk says:

    Thanks, always good posts on your blog!

  4. nkilkenny says:

    Much project management work (if not done correctly) is busy-work. I’m not saying it’s all bad, like doing milestone checks. The problem I think is it’s easier to show that you”re doing something (like completing spreadsheets, timelines, PERT analysis) rather than really mashing together a good product. Corporate life and it’s moral code dictate that we ‘look’ busy.

  5. Rory says:

    How true that is!!

    And how unfortunate, too.

    The real danger, I think – projecting out into the future of some kind – is that if corporations/firms that value busyness so much don’t change their tune (and quickly!) they will never attract and retain the talent to make things happen …. the Net-Generation will never stand for it, frankly and they’ll just go find someplace else – or start their own company.

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