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  • Managing Flow of Knowledge Work - Part 1

    By Suzanne Johnson, MBA, CAPM, CSM, CSPO   What do these activities have in common? Designing an expansion for an urban office building, Creating a new logo for a sports brand, Analyzing traffic flow through some proposed road construction, Interpreting...

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  • PMI Maine Business Analyst Community (MEBAC) Update

    With two successful events under our belt, the MEBAC group (PMI Maine Business Analysts Community) is looking for new ways to innovate and grow!  The first event, held in November of last year, took our new group to Ri Ra's in downtown Portland.  Our Keynote...

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  • Emerging Areas for Project Managers

    By Suzanne Johnson, MBA, CAPM, CSM, CSPO   Upward Mobility In his article, Trending Topic – The Project Economy, Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, a former chair of the PMI Board of Directors and world leader in project management shares the following, “My...

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  • Update from the Membership Desk!

    We are excited to announce that we reached a milestone and have 400 PMI Maine Chapter members!    We continue to work to add value to PMI Maine and look forward to heading towards 500 members.  Of the 400 members, 21 are new this year and 289 members...

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  • 2019 Changes in PMI Maine Board of Directors

    Our Chapter members elected the following new candidates to the 2019 PMI Maine Chapter Board.  All three are joining the Board as a Director at Large:  Dawn Anderson,  Jason Poirier, and Jenny Tisdale. Your newly elected Board members join the...

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  • Maine PMI Chapter, Business Analysis Community:

    Do you, or someone you know constructs business analysis or strategy solutions?  Does your work deal with requirements gathering or process modeling?  If so, you might be interested in the new community within the Maine PMI Chapter that responds to...

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  • Sebago Brewery Tour - Huge Success

    The Brewery Tour Source: Observations by Barbara Truitt, PMI Maine President Our first attempt at converting a learning opportunity monthly meeting into a social occasion was a great success!  It felt like a whole new group.  Here are the highlights:...

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  • Maine Chapter Membership

      About the Maine Chapter: In the North America Region (referred to as the Mega Region), PMI membership is 339,637 total members which is over 62% of membership worldwide.    Chapter Membership in North America is over 195,000 and the number is...

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  • MEMIC our newest Silver Level Sponsor!

    As Maine’s largest and leading workers’ compensation insurer, MEMIC’s service-driven commitment helps Maine employers reduce injuries and save on the many costs of workplace injuries. Our team of safety experts are always in the field helping...

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  • Announcing MEBAC, a new PMI Maine Community!

    PMI Global recognizes and highly values the close partnership of PMs and BAs and their critical leadership roles in creating better business outcome.  A Business Analyst (BA) is defined in a much broader sense than their title in the company. We...

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By Suzanne Johnson, MBA, CAPM, CSM, CSPO

 

What do these activities have in common?

  • Designing an expansion for an urban office building,
  • Creating a new logo for a sports brand,
  • Analyzing traffic flow through some proposed road construction,
  • Interpreting financial data for an upcoming shareholder's meeting,
  • Testing the next software release.

Each requires intellect and focus to transform information and knowledge into a product orservice. The term “knowledge worker” was first coined by Peter Drucker in his book, The Landmarks of Tomorrow (1959). We all have knowledge workers on our teams; in fact, project managers are knowledge workers. Knowledge work is complex, unpredictable and variable. How do we best manage these constrained resources?

Knowledge work flows. It is not measured in units but rather in time and volume. Think of flow as a metaphor: movement, cascading, one-way, rhythmic, pooling behind obstacles. Most of us know that "multi-tasking" is a misnomer. Our brains cannot perform more than one function at a time. What is the cost of multi-tasking? What is the cost of interrupting the flow of knowledge work?

In his book, Quality Software Management: Systems Thinking (1991), Gerald Weinberg proposed a rule of thumb to calculate the waste caused by project switching. This applies to any knowledge worker switching from one project to another, or from one context or task to another. The chart below depicts the loss of productive project time as a worker attempts to multi-task.

Chart

Try this for yourself in a simple five-minute game: The Myth of Multi-tasking Test by Dave Crenshaw. As stated in the video, the costs of task switching are time, quality, and stress. There are also financial costs which we will explore in next month’s article. As a project manager, it is critically important to protect team members from costly interruptions whenever possible.

I’m interested in how you help your teams stay focused and productive. You can reach me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/suzanne-johnson/.

Thanks to Kevin Callahan for his expertise in this area. Kevin is a great local resource as a speaker, coach, trainer, facilitator, and consultant. Kevin's LinkedIn Profile

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Total Members 428
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