Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya.

Filed under Leadership | Posted by PMStudent

You interfered with the productivity of my project team member.

Prepare to die.

I saw this as a twitter status on my #agile view recently and couldn’t resist doing a blog post with this theme from The Princess Bride. ?It’s a topic I’m very passionate about. (Productivity that is. Well, I like the movie too!)

I written quite a bit about the fact that I think one of the primary roles of the project manager is to remove obstacles from their project team. ?One of the constant battles I fight on behalf of my teams is for their time and focus to be as undisturbed as possible so they can great fantastic systems.

Here are some things I do to accomplish this. ?Please add your own tips in the comments section!

Work From Home With a Twist

An individual can accomplish much of his or her work by themselves. ?Even though the team interaction is a beneficial must-have, there are situations where it just makes sense to limit distractions as much as possible. ?In a recent case, I proposed an agreement with one of my team members for them to work from home 2 days per week, every week.

Here’s the twist. ?Normally when people are working from home, they are getting bombarded with instant messages and email. ?Sometimes it seems even less work than normal got done due to all these distractions.

So this agreement says that aside from the dialing in for the daily team tag-up in the morning, I want them to be offline and inaccessible in all ways except by phone if there is a critical situation.

This does a few things.

  • First, it allows them complete focus on their tasks.
  • Second, it is a real demonstration of your trust in them as a professional.
  • Third, it reinforces my personal focus on results, not on micro-management.


Kanban is a way of limiting the work in process (WIP) for your project team and individuals on your project team. ?It’s a visual system that makes it easy to see what is currently in work, what’s coming up next, and what is already done. ?There are tons of other benefits of Kanban including explicit value stream mapping and team communication benefits, especially when combined with a daily stand-up meeting.

On one of my project teams, we are currently about a month ahead of where I thought we’d be when we were not yet doing the two things above effectively. ?I attribute our speed primarily to the two items above, besides having a great team!

So tell me, what tips do you have for removing obstacles from your project teams?