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Managing a Team with GTD

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  • Managing a Team with GTD

    Does anyone use GTD to manage a team at work, if so would you be prepared to share your thoughts on how its done?

  • #2
    I don't manage people now with GTD, but I used to (don't manage anyone at my current job).

    No different than regular GTD, really. You just have a lot of Waiting Fors.

    Do you have specific worries about the process?

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Neil,

      I am managing a small team (4 project managers & business analysts) - I agree with Brent that it's not really different to regular GTD, but I've got one or two "tweaks" that help me....

      1. Contexts

      I use an "@Delegate" context for pieces of work I need to delegate to my team. I use it like a next action in that I have to think about what is the successful outcome of the delegated work - and this helps define the objectives for the person to whom the work is delegated (deliverables, timescales, etc), and perhaps even a first Next Action for them if they need it...

      As Brent says, there are then a lot of "@Waiting Fors". I've only got a small team, so I schedule a mini Weekly Review with each person, to monitor progress, deal with issues, define Next Actions, etc. The results from these then feed into my own Weekly Review

      I also maintain an "@Agenda" list for questions and follwo-ups with the team that don't fall into @Delegate or @Waiting For.

      2. Projects List

      Slightly more complex in that I maintain my own Projects List and one for each team member. Again, very useful in defining the successful outcome of each project, which helps to frame the project objectives. These lists are also very useful when deciding whether to accept new work eg: "Tom can do that project for you now, but it means that one of your other projects will have to be delayed - which one would you like it to be?"

      3. Other Comments

      I haven't told the team that I'm using GTD in my dealings with them. I did consider whether to mention/discuss it, and in the end came to the conclusion that I'd do it and see what they said. In fact, they've been asking me about it and I've been able to supply them with GTD information - which probably works better than trying to force it upon them.

      Even if they are not completely aware, I think the team like it - in particular they appreciate the degree of "protection" it give them it terms of not suddenly having extra work given to them without consideration of all the other things they are working on at the time.

      That's turned into quite a long reply - I hope it was of interest.

      Best Regards,

      mark.

      Comment


      • #4
        Mark...

        many thanks

        do you have a standard process for defining projects?

        do you set a title and an outcome statement?

        Comment


        • #5
          Mark: Thanks for the reply! Very interesting to see GTD used by a real manager.

          Originally posted by neil007 View Post
          do you have a standard process for defining projects?
          No, because each project is different and often defined for me. Also, there's a danger in standardizing project templates: that I will miss the unique attributes of that particular project as I try to force it into the template.

          I will certainly apply checklists to certain types of projects, though.

          do you set a title and an outcome statement?
          The outcome is the title. The outcome is all you need--provided the outcome is correctly defined.

          Comment


          • #6
            Really?

            Originally posted by Brent View Post
            No, because each project is different and often defined for me. Also, there's a danger in standardizing project templates: that I will miss the unique attributes of that particular project as I try to force it into the template.
            Really? I think that all projects do consist of the outcome, steps, resources and deadlines so it is possible to use standard procedure (or checklist) to develop the project plan.

            Comment


            • #7
              TesTeq: I think we're talking across-purposes!

              You're absolutely right that organized projects share common attributes. I was thinking of more detailed standard processes. I've seen project processes and templates that insist on defining detailed stages of development (Design, Development, Integration, Internal Testing, External Validation); that's the sort of thing that can obstruct clear thinking about each project.

              While you can certainly use that sort of standard process as a checklist ("Does this project need an Integration phase?"), I shudder at the idea of forcing each project into one form.

              But that may just be my own issue.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank you for the explanation.

                Ok. Thank you for the explanation. I was thinking about the highest level of project planning where some general structure of thinking is needed.

                Comment


                • #9
                  How i am using it

                  Although i have been preparing for management for quite a while it kind of came suddenly and recently. Although i had prepared the mechanics of managing and techniques i hadnt thought about how my pretty good gtd system would scale. Eg the weekly review isnt just for my work anymore. So far its been luck but i sat down friday and wrote it all out properly how i think it should work. Basically i have contexts for each team member and a folder for them. Every morning i review the folder. If its important and cant wait for the weekly one to one it gets dealt with that day. I have a project list for me the team and each person. I need to integrate them better. A golden thread from my boss down to my directs. But thats to come. Theres a lot of waiting fors but i track them and review daily. i havent tried to impose my system ie gtd on anyone in the team and so far am letting them manage their work how they see fit. If i see trends i might suggest they borrow my book.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Sievert, this is very interesting. Can you keep us informed about how it's going? I think moving GTD beyond your direct work or home is really something I would like to hear more about - managing non-GTD people at home or work. I think sometimes the complexity of some situations doesn't allow for just a simple @waiting for.

                    Mark, I really like how you perform mini-reviews with your non-GTD people.

                    Originally posted by Sievert View Post
                    Although i have been preparing for management for quite a while it kind of came suddenly and recently. Although i had prepared the mechanics of managing and techniques i hadnt thought about how my pretty good gtd system would scale. Eg the weekly review isnt just for my work anymore. So far its been luck but i sat down friday and wrote it all out properly how i think it should work. Basically i have contexts for each team member and a folder for them. Every morning i review the folder. If its important and cant wait for the weekly one to one it gets dealt with that day. I have a project list for me the team and each person. I need to integrate them better. A golden thread from my boss down to my directs. But thats to come. Theres a lot of waiting fors but i track them and review daily. i havent tried to impose my system ie gtd on anyone in the team and so far am letting them manage their work how they see fit. If i see trends i might suggest they borrow my book.
                    Last edited by sdann; 04-12-2009, 08:19 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Wilco

                      Yep course I will keep this thread up-to-date I suppose is the best way.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        We built a tool very much inspired by GTD ideas for helping teams self-manage. It's called Harmonia - https://harmonia.io - and it managed recurring tasks and chores with automatic fair assignment around the members of the team.

                        I've also just written about how GTD ideas can apply in the team context. The keys are twofold: firstly, ensuring that tasks are actionable, whenever possible; second, that sacrifice of autonomy required to perform a "next action" promptly. Here's the post: http://harmonia.io/blog/getting-things-done-for-teams/

                        I'd love to know what you think!
                        Task management for modern, self-organising teams. Share responsibility for repeating, day-to-day tasks. Manage less and achieve more. With smart and fair assignment, you and your team will have more time to get back to creative work.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I use a Projects - Delegated context in my projects list, to keep track of what I've handed my direct reports. I usually put the date assigned in brackets at the end. If it is more along the lines of a Next Action, I just stick it in my Wating Fors. Generally speaking, once your reports figure out you have just a good a handle on what they are working on (maybe better then them), they tend to become much more careful about tracking their projects.

                          I've even brought a few folks into the GTD fold by doing this!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jeffpheath View Post
                            Generally speaking, once your reports figure out you have just a good a handle on what they are working on (maybe better then them), they tend to become much more careful about tracking their projects.
                            I'm president of a non-profit board and that's been my experience as well.

                            Originally posted by jeffpheath View Post
                            I've even brought a few folks into the GTD fold by doing this!
                            I think that's the best way to do it -- leading by example. Nicely done.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think we have seen in this thread that GTD can be used for managing your life and work, including the relationships you then need to have with other people - be they clients or suppliers, bosses, peers or direct reports. Waiting For lists, in one form or another, are a vital part of the solution in all these cases.

                              I am curious whether anyone has tried to use GTD for a team as a whole - not for you personally as a team leader, but as a neutral and open planning system for the whole team?

                              I imagine that if you did, then there would be yet another Waiting For list - for the team leader, even if that should happen to be you. Example: the team is "Waiting For" its leader to produce a decision on something.

                              And I imagine the Next list would then be a list of not-yet-assigned tasks (because all assigned tasks would be on a Waiting For list for that person).

                              So far it is all pretty obvious. But is there a team level equivalent for GTD's situational decision making about what task to to now - context, energy, time, priority? Obviously the team could resort to the traditional "non-GTD" practice of "soft scheduling" even within the team itself at the team level (and leave GTD to the individual level), but I am curious about whether it would be possible and efficient to define meaningful "team contexts" etc, which would give individual team members guidance for how to grab tasks at their own initiative off of the "unassigned" list (the team's Next list). Has anyone tried this?

                              Comment

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