Project Success: Elements of High Productivity

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I've been in the project management profession for more than a decade. Admittedly, I've had my share of times when I was less productive than I would like to be.

While I haven't figured out an exact formula for having superior productivity at all times, I have noticed what contributes to both success and failure in high productivity, for me. These four elements help me stay on track.

When you are coachable, you can easily adapt. You are willing to learn something new and possibly change something about yourself in terms of how you work, react or approach tasks.

Clarity of the overall goal
When I'm working on a project, I want to be clear on what we are working on, what the ultimate goal is, or final result that is expected. With the clarity of the goal, it's easier to commit.

With clarity, commitment and coachability, you're halfway there. What gets you to the end game is two other elements: discipline and self-control. I'm not perfect at either, but I've noted that when I am most successful, these two elements are present. When I fail or get close to failing, they are lacking.

Discipline allows me to focus on the right activity and to motivate myself to do what needs to be done on a regular basis. While I might be good at "catching up" on what I'm behind on, if I have the self-discipline, most of the time, I'm on task.

Self-control is an act of controlling one's impulses to do something other than the task at hand. I catch myself now getting distracted by some activities, but ultimately, self-control allows me to avoid the wrong ones.

We have to remember that what we do is guided by how we think. Every day, I set a goal to have all of these elements in check for any specific project or task. It opens up actions and the things I need to do right away to either stay on track, get back on track or even outperform what was planned.

How do you stay productive?

Read more from Dmitri.

Posted by Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL on: April 10, 2012 10:37 AM | Permalink

Comments (3)

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Atul Gaur

I do agree that the factors mentioned by the author do contribute in being productive however there are a few more that can be implemented on a daily basis and enhance productivity.

Delegation is one important aspect that can increase productivity but one should have a very clear aspect of what to delegate and how much to delegate and who to delegate.

Training and mentoring the project team members can also help increase productivity. Not every one is perfect and no project team is compete in all respect but the team members can be trained, motivated to perform daily task and be in control of the project.

Toby Elwin
To compliment the blog and the other commenter, Atul, I think resiliency is also critical.

There are so many perceptions of what the project manager brings and what the culture perceives a project manager is. Being a dedicated professional to project management is about our role, not our education.

Another is the ability to balance process and promise. Slave to process is missing stakeholder/sponsor need. What value do we offer if the only thing accomplished were project management templates. If we delivery on the promise we make the sponsor succeed.

Finally, a very highly-tuned emotional intelligence. Great technical skill is useless without navigating the reality that we only get things done when others are motivated to. Almost every engagement we deal in is some kind of matrix relationship: we have little to zero administrative authority.

Thank you for the post.


I read and appreciate all your posts. This one struck close to home as it is an issue on my current project with myself and the team.

It seems that productivity is related to the perceived significance of the project by the stakeholders and the team. There's nothing less motivating than working on a project that few if any stakeholders care about.

With lack of motivation comes lack of productivity. The key, for me, is to know how my stakeholders value the project in relation to the other projects - essentially portfolio management coupled with effective communication.

These two elements go a long way to helping me and the team stay motivated.

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