“I was seconded to a larger branch of my company in another country. Apart from the enjoyment of visiting a new city (for me) for a couple of months, I found some interesting work practices that we did not have at home.

One of these was the weekly meeting with the business section, where they set down their priorities for the work that the support sections were to do for them. I initially thought that this was pretty cool, until a few weeks into the process I noticed that the priorities changed each week. Something that was super-hot one week would be replaced by a different super-hot item the following week, and resources pulled away from last week’s priority item.

Nobody finished anything. Everybody was switching from one task to another, and the organization had almost zero continuity. This didn’t affect me too badly — I was there to do something that did not fall under the auspices of the fluctuating business section — but colleagues around me were decidedly unhappy. Why shouldn’t they be? They were rarely able to experience the satisfaction of finishing something, and more or less began each task knowing they probably wouldn’t finish it.

Was anybody doing long-term strategic planning? If they were, I failed to notice it. Was the inconsistent re-prioritization playing havoc with the culture? My colleagues certainly thought so.”  – James Robertson

The unspoken rule at this company was:

Only what is urgent today matters. Yesterday’s urgency is not so urgent anymore.

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