WeedsPreparing a creative and strategic thinking workshop for a client this week, one of the attendees mentioned in the pre-session survey a desire to identify ways to stay out of the weeds on project teams.

Great question and a strategic thinking topic we haven't necessarily covered from that angle. While we talk frequently about the importance of focusing on what matters for an organization and staying productive, we haven't necessarily addressed specific ways project teams can stay out of the weeds.

12 Ways Project Teams Can Stay out of the Weeds

Here are twelve ways to monitor whether a group is addressing strategic topics and ways a project team can stay out of the weeds if that is where it is stuck:

  • Involve a senior executive on the project team who has a short attention span for detail.
  • Prepare a meeting agenda that addresses big topics, but plans for a brief time near the meeting’s conclusion to revisit overly-detailed topics emerging during the project team meeting.
  • Maintain a running list of decisions and assumptions your project team has made and unless there is a clear and compelling strategic reason, make it difficult for the group to revisit and rework them.
  • Set a time limit for how much time you'll spend researching, discussing, or deciding on a topic.
  • Invite fewer people to meetings where you're discussing detailed topics.
  • Use an impartial facilitator to run the project team meeting and keep it moving toward the meeting objective.
  • Have someone with no experience participate in your discussion and whenever you get into topics that person doesn't understand, pull the conversation back up to a meaningful level.
  • Ask whether the topic you're discussing will have a material impact on the organization.
  • Continually ask how overly-detailed conversations are going to lead to discernible impact for customers or other important audience members.
  • Call time out on any topic you're discussing that promises incremental impact but will be complex to implement.
  • Assign the people who want to get bogged down on a topic to do individual work to investigate or explore the issues and report back to the team.
  • Be willing to wrap up (or leave) early if there's no forward progress toward the team's objective and rethink your approach.

How do you keep a project team focused on strategic thinking and out of the weeds?

Do you have a tendency to get into the weeds when you really should be staying strategic? If not you, but others around you have a tendency to get into the weeds, how do you keep it from happening? – Mike Brown


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