‘It’s a good idea, let’s do it’. How often do we hear this? Almost all the time. Product managers would suggest to add another feature, Marketing teams would plan another campaign, HR teams would organize another employee connect and so on. Now let’s consider another scenario where someone goes to his/ her boss asking for funds to implement something new. What’s the usual response from that boss, “Give me the budget, show me the RoI”? And yet, no RoI is considered when the investment needed is not in dollar terms but more in human time and effort.
So often, people invest their time and energy in doing mediocre things with low impact that none is left to do great things with high impact. And that’s usually the difference between a good and a great team. A lot of times doing good things is a well intention thought but it needs effort, substantial effort for something good to do. And when someone puts in lot of efforts, they expect a favorable outcome. The outcome most often for mediocre initiatives is well at the best, mediocre. That in turn causes dissatisfaction among employees and leads to further problems.
In today’s day and age, the challenge is often too many things to do. And that’s where prioritization becomes a key skill for effective leaders. Prioritization in terms of doing high impact things. There is no better example of this than the Venture Capital industry. Investing in startups is a high risk, high reward game. Out of 10 investments, may be 2 succeed- but they give such high returns that losing in the other 8 does not matter. This concept is well known to most people in business but most large organizations fail to implement it. They keep their employees busy, very busy with doing mediocre stuff resulting in dissatisfaction of employees and inability to change fast enough.
Another problem with doing too many things is the cost of context switching. If an activity takes 1 hour and you do 5 different activities in a day, mathematically it comes to just 5 hours, shouldn’t be too difficult, right? Mostly, leads to a super unproductive day. What we miss is that human mind needs some context and warm up to do things well. When we perform too many tasks in a day, all requiring different context and mental makeup, it leads to mental fatigue and low productivity.