Watch Out for False Productivity

clockCutting’s Edge is one of my favorite project management blogs. Thomas recently posted on the cost of project success. I enjoyed the examples of the construction of several wonders of the world as projects and their often overlooked consequences on the project teams that built them.

Thomas draws out a parallel to contemporary projects, and how in some or many cases project managers will actually plan on over-utilizing staff in their planning, or not see it as enough of a risk to take serious action.

His point is well taken, and I would like to add the pressure from the other side. I have worked with many team members who felt it is a status symbol to have been the one to work the most hours in a given week. It’s like keeping up with the Joneses. A good project manager has to be able to detect this. Signs include:

* Spends an inordinate amount of time socializing with co-workers
* Often points out explicitly or implicitly that they are working a lot of hours
* Often points out explicitly or implicitly that they were the first to arrive or last to leave for the day

Many people who work 10 to 12 hour days get the same or only slightly more than those who work 8. Productivity is a ratio of how much value was added over the time it took. Aim for more productive people, not people willing to sacrifice their personal lives by achieving less productivity over more time.

About the author

JoshNankivel Josh Nankivel is a Project Planning & Controls Control Account Manager and contractor for the ground system of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, a joint project between the USGS and NASA. His academic background includes a BS in Project Management, summa cum laude.  He can be found writing and contributing in many places within the project management community, and his primary project management website is located at


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