Multitask Master III

John Moore at OurHouse helps me continue my roll thinking about multiprojecting, multitasking, and, well, juggling. In a recent writeup of a presentation by Cynthia Haddock, who works in polarity management, I think we might find the seeds of a strategic approach to keeping multiple irons in the fire — and hot, too.

Leaders need to be conservative for stability and revolutionary for change.

Organizations need centralized coordination and decentralized initiatives

Managers and employees need training and must do their work.

We need to support team development and reward individual achievement.

We need to reduce our costs and improve quality.

All of us are faced with work commitments and home commitments.

None of the above are problems to solve by choosing one and neglecting the other. They are what we call polarities (dilemmas, paradoxes) which are inherently unavoidable and unsolvable. The on-going, natural tension between the poles can be destructive and debilitating or can be managed, and channeled into a creative synergy that leads to superior outcomes.

How does this apply to projects? Rather than approach projects in terms of prioritization, perhaps we approach them as poles. What activities truly are either-or in the sense that they’re multually exclusive and we need to prioritize? Which projects are related — even in the smallest of ways — so there is some opportunity for overlapping work and progress? What projects are necessary to complete as the foundation for future projects?

Haddock recommends the books Paradoxical Thinking and Polarity Management as tools. Probably a good place to start.