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Those Darn Users!
By Barry Otterholt

If it wasn’t for those users, I could get so much done!!

Have you thought how productive you could be if the users would just get out of the way? They can be such a distraction!

Here are a few tips for getting rid of the distractions:

  1. Greet them with a cheery “I’m glad you’re here!” They’ll immediately be uncomfortable.
  2. Give them work. Tell them you need a flowchart of all their processes.
  3. Conduct an impromptu worksession with them. Ask them to show draw their business model on the whiteboard.
  4. Talk to them in a foreign language. Project management language usually suffices.
  5. Have a tips jar on your desk, labeled “for a good cause,” and ask them how much they could donate. Having a legitimate good cause seems to make it even more awkward.
  6. Have a pact with co-workers to jump up from their chair as soon as the distraction arrives, and come to you with a great sense of anticipation. It puts the distraction on the spot to be insightful, which wasn’t part of the deal.

Pretty soon you will have fewer distractions in your day. Once you’ve gotten rid of distractions, the only thing left is expectations. But they come from a different office, and that’s a story for another time.

Barry Otterholt, CMC, PMP

Barry Otterholt has been a project management specialist and coach for the past 30 years. He is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and a Project Management Professional (PMP). He works with both public and private sector companies in the USA, Europe and Scandinavia. Mr. Otterholt was a Director with Microsoft, a senior consultant with Deloitte Consulting, and a COO with a nationwide consumer electronics enterprise. In 1988 he founded Public Knowledge, LLC to provide independent management and operational support to the public sector. More recently, he founded Stouffer & Company, LLC to provide as-needed project management services to fill an obvious skills gap in both private and public sectors.

Mr. Otterholt is an adjunct professor teaching project management at Northwest University. His essays on project management have been published in PMI newsletters. His runs a blog, Project Management Essays, where he muses about various project management topics.

Mr. Otterholt is a member of the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) and the Project Management Institute (PMI). He has a BA in Accounting and Computer Science and an MBA in Business Administration. He lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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