Two piles: things to care about…or not

Scott Berkun has had a few recent posts that every new leader should read. The first is here: How project managers establish power.  In this post, Scott highlights one of the most important things to do as a leader —  help your teams and their leaders clear away the clutter:

He gave me clear priorities…. It was amazingly empowering. I could slice through all of the work being thrown at me from across the team and the company, and divide into two neat piles: a) things to care about, b) things not to care about.

Everyone knows that one must prioritize one’s work, but how to do so?  Scott then uses a “There are only two teams at Microsoft to care about, Windows and Office” anecdote to illustrate how prioritizing one’s stakeholders makes it obvious what is to be done:

The problem was working on Internet Explorer during the browser wars, every one of the 100 teams in the company wanted something from me, and every other PM on the team…. There was a huge pile of people who wanted to influence the work I managed. My phone rang all the time and my inbox was always full. If I treated everyone equally I’d be doomed. Couldn’t be done. I had to ignore, or say no to, most of the people who wanted something from me.

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