The two basic questions in any project/task are – are we doing it in time, using the estimated/allocated effort? Most of the important metrics are then derived out of these parameters – time & talent, as I like to call it. Time & talent are curiously unique while being the very basic parameters of any project.
The most intriguing aspect of time is that we cannot save time. We may be able to – in the most simplistic sense – if our project does not have any dependencies on anything in the world, which is not real. The other option to save time is to underestimate – estimate very stringent timelines, which is not a good practice. If we attempt to do a project under normal circumstances, pushing for an early completion of a task creates wastage of time down the line. The best way to save time is by spending it wisely, by creating and sustaining a flow, a rhythm in work.
Talent fulfills the allocated effort in a way that completes the task. In practice, talent is not generic, it is very specific – everyone cannot do every job. That brings out the uniqueness of this parameter – unlike other inanimate parameters. Everything remains the same, the best way to get the most out of a talent pool is to give. Give information get better interpretation/implementation, give training get better productivity. It does not stop there – recognition, empowerment, compensation etc. – there are many variables in this equation. The challenge is to balance the equation – across variables, across the team.
Many a times we try to meet the challenges in managing time and talent using unintelligent, inanimate processes and tools. But managing is both art and science. A little art, a little creativity in these areas will make the manager, the team and the project distinct.