Planned Neglect

The shorter way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time.”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

In his book, Developing the Leader Within You, John C Maxwell tells the story of a young and talented concert pianist as follows:
She was asked the secret to her success. She replied, “Planned neglect.” Then she explained, “When I was in music school, there were many things that demanded my time. When I went to my room after breakfast, I made my bed, straightened the room, dusted the floor, and did whatever else came to my attention. Then I hurried to my violin practice. I found I wasn’t progressing as I thought I should, so I reversed things. Until my practice period was completed, I deliberately neglected everything else. That program of planned neglect, I believe, accounts for my success”

If you have identified a single important objective for your OSS, then neglecting all other activities will help to accomplish the main goal. An earlier blog entry tells the successful story of neglecting reporting, meetings and documentation to focus on delivering the product instead.

Planned neglect won’t work in all instances, especially when you’re leading multiple projects or multiple disciplines. However, if you reverse the order of doing things, it may even remove the superfluous elements of your job, project or product.

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