Many people also know of the classic way of categorising
work in terms of its importance and urgency. The four quadrants popularized in
Covey's “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and other titles. The pie
charts give examples of what is probably currently happening within your
Enterprise and what perhaps may be the target.
But here’s the thing…
People generally have an innate and uncontrollable desire to
work on things in the Firefighting quadrant and people who are responsible for
these people tend to reinforce this innate behaviour in the people who report
to them - for the behaviour is innate in them too.
There is nothing wrong with these people. There are no bad people, only bad environments.
Doing Firefighting type work tends to be both rewarding and
rewarded. And this innate behaviour is massively reinforced by the environment
people work within that is constantly calling for quick wins, low hanging
fruit, meeting of deadlines, etc.
People (from the US) who spend most of their time in that
quadrant are known as MVP’s - Most Valued Player.
“In many organizations, despite any rhetoric to the
contrary, people are rewarded for dealing with crises and problems. The MVP is the
one who came in at 3 a.m. to fix a problem, or who reacts instantly to the
customer's complaint. Such an organization overlooks the fact that these MVP's
are putting out fires that either they set themselves and/or they failed to do
anything to prevent. Then when we promote the MVP, we wonder why nobody follows
any processes and everyone is always too overloaded to get anything right the
first time. Why? Because that is the behaviour that is rewarded.”
- Douglas Brown. Chief PMO - US Department of Defense
Put simply, being Pragmatic
means - Balancing Important / Non Urgent things with Important / Urgent things.
Is your Enterprise allowed to
work on Important Non Urgent things?
Are people allowed to spend
enough time on Important Non Urgent things?
If people were allowed to
spend more time on Important Non Urgent things, do you think there would be
What would the benefits be and
can you quantify them?