If you’re following a system for continuous improvement, you probably always have at least one project on your hands. Juggling multiple different large-scale tasks can be a challenging ordeal, especially if the requirements for some of them keep changing on a regular basis. And on the other hand, sometimes it’s more beneficial to focus your attention more tightly on one particular project for a longer period of time, for example when that project has the potential to result in the biggest changes in the company’s performance.
The choice is not always very obvious, and it’s even more challenging when you’re still fresh in the field and aren’t that familiar with lean concepts. It might feel like a bit of a gamble, but you’ll eventually develop a strong intuition for it. In the meantime, it’s important to look at some specific factors in each situation you face where you have to decide whether your attention would be better split across multiple projects, or directed towards a single one.
Help Between Departments
Manpower is an obvious primary candidate for an important factor. Knowing how many other leaders in your organization can devote their attention to different projects is an important detail, as you must always make sure to coordinate your actions with the rest of your team members.
If you’re currently tasked with multiple projects but the data shows that one of them in particular is going to be more impactful than the rest, then you should bring that up to your colleagues and explain the situation to them. If you can share your current work with other leaders within the organization – even just temporarily – this could give you the time you need to figure out how to push the important one forward.
The same is valid the other way around too, though. If you currently don’t have much on your plate, but another department in the organization is struggling with its workload, this might be the right time to bring more projects under your umbrella. Especially if you’re currently not in charge of any major development work that’s critical for the development of the company’s infrastructure.
Of course, if you’re taking on new projects to assist other departments, make sure they’re always aligned with your expertise and that you aren’t just taking them for the sake of filling up your workload. You may end up doing a negative favor to those departments if you mishandle some specific aspect of their projects, dragging the whole organization down as a result!
Recording Your Progress
Make sure you track all your results, ideally in a way that allows you to easily compare your performance when you’re working on multiple projects versus a single one. Sooner or later patterns are going to start emerging, and you’ll be able to figure out which mode of work you operate better in.
You’ll likely find that you’re more adept at either one of these two styles, but not both at the same time. This is a typical case for many leaders, and learning which way you work better is a critical point that you’ll want to consider as early as possible in your career.
Sharing Data Between Projects
On the note of data collection and organization, one great thing you can do to improve your workflow is to align your data sets in a way that you can share them between multiple projects when there is some relevance between them.
This can significantly simplify the process of keeping up with projects on multiple fronts, and you may even notice some synergy between them. In this case, it might actually work in your favor to keep taking on multiple projects at the same time when you see an opportunity for this type of information sharing between them.
This is something that you’ll need to build up an intuition for though, and you can only do that by completing as many projects as you can successfully, and measuring the results of each one. Once you learn what the patterns of your work are, you’ll be able to organize your workload much more efficiently in the future, and you’ll complete each individual project even faster.