Focus… in a world of distractions

Focus… in a world of distractions

Focus has really been… for lack of a better word… the focus lately.

It was one of the things my team felt went well in our last sprint. It has even been a topic of discussion with senior management recently.

So why is focus the focus? Why or how did we lose focus? Did we ever have focus to begin with? What changed to bring focus to attention? How do we keep our focus?

Focus is a fickle thing. We all have the things we enjoy doing, and the things we have to do. For some people, they can balance between these quite nicely. But sometimes, we set ourselves high expectations, or we have these high expectations set upon us and this affects our ability to focus.

For example, my team know the importance of the work we have on… and know that we need to get it done as soon as possible. The team want to be successful and deliver the tasks we have, however, they set high expectations on themselves and find that the end result is the opposite of being successful. They have over-allocated themselves in the sprint and therefore feel they have failed to deliver.

To make matters worse, there is an endless list of distractions, interruptions and continuing competing priorities that also don’t help us to remain focused. Challenges such as new and shiny technologies or ideas, interruptions from everywhere requiring action from us, or the fight to be at the top of your to do list, especially from those who scream the loudest!

So how do you remain focused with these in mind? I personally believe that focus requires a clear direction to be set. It requires the balls to say “No” to the things that don’t provide value to that overall direction. It requires the capability to give yourself or your team some space to work on one thing at a time and avoid the productivity lost from context switching. It is also about being realistic and accept that there will be distractions and account for them when planning yours or your team’s work. These are all the things I aim to be better at as a leader.

What has focus achieved for us? For me it has allowed me to be better at what I do and given me the energy and motivation to do more. Focus has also brought energy to my team. They are more engaged and working far better together to get through the work in front of them.

You give life to the things you give energy

This was the mantra of the instructor for a yoga class I attended recently. If we give energy to those distractions and interruptions, they will gain life and will continue to take our focus away. We must know where we want to give our energy, and ensure we only give life to those things that actually matter.

What challenges your focus? How do you keep focused?

Until next time.

Driving Digital Disruption

Driving Digital Disruption

Today, I attended an event about driving digital disruption beyond 2020.

One of the key messages about today’s event was that the rate of change in technology is at the fastest it has ever been. Quite frankly, I couldn’t agree more. Even discussing this further with others attending the event, they shared concerns about just how fast vendors are developing new technologies that even channel partners selling these technologies are having a hard time keeping their staff trained and up-to-date to know enough to sell, design and implement these technologies.

There were some other interesting points about how IT teams need to change and become more of an enabler of the business. Teams need to focus efforts on transitioning, or maturing, through the following steps to really drive value to the business and build a true partnership with the business:

  1. Provide Stability
  2. Continuously Optimise
  3. Increase Agility and Business Responsive
  4. Drive Business Innovation and Experimentation

It also raised a question as to “What’s stopping us?” This is a valid question. One that I don’t believe is asked enough or thought through enough. What is limiting our speed to deliver business value? What are the constraints holding us back? True disruption and innovation will come from those that have taken the time to understand these questions and find ways to work around them.

It is interesting, because today, I feel that there is so much that me and my team could do to really drive disruption in our organisation and our biggest challenge is prioritising some time to being innovative when everything we work on is top priority, or worse… urgent!

Talking to others after the event, it really was apparent that this is a common thing. Finding that even someone working in a very similar role as me for a much larger organisation in a similar industry also has the same challenges I have around disruption and innovation in technology, and in processes in his organisation.

IT Leaders probably have some work to do in educating Business Leaders more about how technology can be better leveraged to improve key areas of the business, such as the Customer’s Experience, the Employee’s Experience, Operational Processes and the overall Business Model.

How you do you drive disruption and innovation in your team? What challenges do you face?

Until next time.

6 ways to create an amazing agile team | Atlassian Blogs

6 ways to create an amazing agile team | Atlassian Blogs

Today, as manager of an IT Operations team, that also has a backlog of initiative work for improving business systems and tools and works in a business that is transitioning through Agile practices, it has been a real challenge getting a typically waterfall type team to jump on the Agile bandwagon. I’ve been selling it to the team for more than 12 months now though today’s team has changed significantly since the team 12 months ago. 

My team has more focus on its responsibilities. More experience and skills. More thoughts and more questions. 

When selling Agile, it has been tough. It is challenging for me and the team but I don’t believe it is impossible. I had even been asked to revisit the reasons why I believed in using Agile in our team. 

This article from Atlassian, I believe, explains the key things needed to have an Agile team… and most importantly… it doesn’t have to be a development team.

For me, the transition continues and I have all the patience it takes, so long as we continue to change and adapt to our learnings. Even if we are an IT Operations team. 

Until next time!