Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Urgent and the Important

Normally I wouldn't be posting a link about politics in a blog about design and user experience, but in this interview with Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger, Mr. Kissinger many an observation about priorities that stayed with me. I'm sure this observation has been made before, but here's an excerpt:
"One of the problems of government is to separate the urgent from the important and make sure you're dealing with the important and don't let the urgent drive out the important."
As someone who has spent much of his professional career as both a designer and a design manager at the same time, I've found this is a daily challenge when it comes to people and project management. There will always be temporary crises, unreasonable deadlines that can't be negotiated around, difficult clients. Allowing yourself or your team to be constantly reactive is a trap can prevent you from moving forward what's important. The adrenaline can be addictive, but will drain a team of it's passion and creativity.

I've read in the past that Google allows employees to set aside a certain amount of time for personal projects. Personally, I try to keep creative projects in the mix when planning my team's work so there are outlets for artistic expression. What do you do to help prevent the urgent from driving out the important?

Read more from Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger about the job of Secretary of State on Newsweek.com

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