Tired of being told to do more with less?

This usually feels like the need to take on more work with fewer resources and less time. Which pushes you to the margins of your nights and weekends to “catch up.” All you end up with is more work and less value delivered.

You know the pace isn’t sustainable.

The problem: more work leads to less value delivered

We feel pressure to get stuff done, but what we really need is to deliver value — faster.

In the race to do more with less, urgent demands displace priority work. We get so focused on the pace and need to go faster that we overlook the friction that builds as work piles up.

Friction erodes value and destroys trust as it burns people out. Miscommunication and mistakes lead to wasted work and re-work. Frustration grows over unmet (and mis-communicated) expectations.

We end up starting more than we finish, taking on more work only to deliver less value.

We don’t need more work; we need more value.

Next time someone explains you need to do more with less, reframe it as the need to deliver more value and create less work. Finished work delivers value.

Which means we need to stop starting and start finishing.

The dilemma is what to focus on with so many problems to choose from — and more getting dumped on us every day. One way to make the right choice and combat the Tyranny of the Urgent is clarity of focus.

Clarify what you (and your team) say yes to — the priority problem to solve.

Everything else gets triaged and handled later to prevent distractions that block finishing and delivering value.

Are you solving the right problem?

Solving the right problem generates an impressive return on value.

Select the right problem by building a business case and exploring the value exchange. These actions cut through the noise to validate problem selection while helping you explain your focus to other people. Make sure you include defining what success looks like.

Taking the time to select the right problem with clarity helps avoid saying yes to the wrong things.

Protect your focus by showing your work

It might seem counterintuitive, but showing your work sooner and more often helps protect your time and focus. It takes away the mystery of what you’re working on and the illusion that you have more capacity to handle even more work.

Showing your work invites collaboration and contribution. Check for agreement and make necessary corrections earlier, avoiding wasted work and rework later.

Put up or shut up: deliver value

We all know folks who talk a good game, but struggle to deliver value.

If you want the space to create more value and not more work, this is your chance to put up or shut up.

Stay focused, keep people informed, finish the work and deliver value.

What do you think happens as you consistently deliver value — while showing people what it takes and explaining why you need to stay focused?

They want more value delivered. And you do, too, but with less work.

About the Author Michael Santarcangelo

The founder of Security Catalyst, Michael develops exceptional leaders and powerful communicators with the security mindset for success.

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