The Massively Underestimated Effect of Omission

This post is inspired by a LinkedIn post by Moritz Hornung, in which he argues that when it comes to changes in organizations, instead of always doing more, things should be reduced or, better yet, omitted altogether.

So one should not only ask: “What should be done to improve things?”, but very explicitly also ask the question: “What should be omitted or reduced to improve things?”

Moritz hit an important point in his post. It’s well worth reading, and I’d like to take up his thoughts to make concrete suggestions from my experience on how targeted omission or reduction of activities can reduce effort in multi-project and portfolio management while simultaneously increasing benefit.

Imagine the acceptance you’ll get in the organization for your proposed change if tasks are eliminated or become significantly easier.

Suggestions on what should be omitted or reduced:

1. Stop trying to do everything at once.
Create transparency and manage your “work-in-progress”. If you spread your employee capacity thinly across many projects and initiatives, you lose a lot of productivity. It’s not about permanently stopping projects, but only starting them when a team can really take care of them. This way, projects can be carried out much faster.

2. Stop monitoring detailed plans and tasks at the top management level.
Focus on setting and controlling the project guardrails. Give your project team the freedom to determine the planning details on their own. Don’t force your project managers to plan everything in detail, update it, and justify it in front of you. Only demand timely consultation if the project guardrails are in jeopardy.

3. Stop demanding manually created reports from your project managers.
Provide software that automatically generates and updates the regularly required reports. This will save you and your team valuable time.

4. Stop training all project managers to be project management experts.
Not every project manager needs to be a seasoned project management expert. That helps the consulting industry more than your core business.

It’s not so important to know all the intricacies of the different models and frameworks and have certifications in AGILE, Lean, SAFe, Scrum, etc. A basic understanding of project management and an awareness of the importance and responsibility for budget, deadlines and deliverables should of course be present. But team building, communication, leadership and an understanding of your company’s core business is much more important.

5. Simplify the request/approval process for employee capacity.
A complicated request/approval process forces project managers into waiting lines and resource managers into unnecessary work. Use AI-assisted software that knows who is working on which projects and what capacities are still available. Give resource managers the ability to veto if necessary.

6. Abolish the “need-to-know” principle.
This principle costs a lot of effort and time and diminishes the potential for self-initiative. Give all project participants simple, visual access to the essential project guardrails. This ensures that everyone has a common understanding of project goals and current project status.

Not every suggestion fits every company, but it’s worth thinking about. What do you think? We’re curious to hear your opinion.

The Massively Underestimated Effect of Omission
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