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More deliverables with less!

PM Skill Builders

In the ever-evolving business landscape, project management principles have played a pivotal role in revolutionizing workflows and empowering individuals. Independent of the project management approach, be it predictive, agile, or hybrid, these principles serve as a catalyst for enhancing both the capabilities of teams and the efficiency of tools, ultimately leading to the attainment of desired outcomes while adhering to the constraints of budget, quality, and time. As an increasing number of companies adopt a project-centric mindset for value creation and goal achievement, the significance of project management in strategy realization becomes more pronounced than ever. Adhering to this mindset necessitates observing certain essential principles, yet we frequently witness these principles being overlooked or violated in practical scenarios.

More deliverables with less!

To reinforce the project management foundations in our Ways of Working, I would like to rephrase the ineffective business mantra of 'Doing more with less' to "More deliverables with less." In many operational and project environments, people focus on 'activities' instead of 'deliverables.' Apparently, people too easily mistake 'Being busy with something' (activity) for 'Creating value' (valuable deliverable). But these are different concepts and should be distinct. So you better make sure you have your priorities right…!

Deliverable versus activity

The key difference between a deliverable and an activity is that a deliverable is tangible; it's a result, an end-state. Obtaining that result adds value to the project. An activity, however, describes what we are doing. It seems minor, but it creates an entirely different mindset!

People and their fundamental orientation and behavior

To better understand what drives people to be so obsessed with 'activities' when trying to organize work, we may look into some ancient and fundamental insights that the Bhagavad Gita provides us with when speaking about people and their fundamental orientation and behavior. It divides them into 4 different groups:

  • Time-oriented people
  • Activity-oriented people
  • Goal-oriented people
  • Vision-oriented people


Time-oriented people ensure they don't 'lose time' by being busy every minute!

These people can be easily recognized; their working days are fully scheduled for every possible minute, and they race from one meeting to the other while doing two (or even more!) things simultaneously: busy, busy, busy, like a dog chasing its tail…


Activity-oriented people are focused on doing things, ensuring they're not idle!

While working on something, they are already looking for the next thing to do. They like to grab new tasks while still working on the other. However, the results (deliverables) of all their activities are not as important as just the fact of being active. Grab something to do, perform your tasks, drop it in the in-tray of the next one in line, and move on…


Goal-oriented people are focused on achieving results to realize their goals.

They act much more strategically and carefully think through a start-to-end plan. Because of that, they tend to be better managers of their own and other people's time and efforts. They ensure that the necessary people deliver the right results at the right time and even take sufficient time to create the required deliverables to support just that!


Finally, vision-oriented people go beyond goals and focus on the higher purpose, the long term, their inspiration, and the framework for all strategic planning. They articulate their dreams and hopes and constantly remind themselves and their environment of what they are trying to build.

'Doing more with less' obsession

Now, getting back to the key question I started with: Why are most people so obsessed with 'doing more with less'?

Operational environments are keen on achieving maximum efficiency by ensuring that every possible minute of every employee is used to the limit and no one is idle. The efficiency focus combines the first two orientations (Time and Activity) in these organizations, and because of that, it typically reinforces that mindset with the stakeholders involved. But never try to reinforce this orientation in project environments! Projects are definitely not routine tasks in a 'production-line' context. Projects definitely need a Goal-oriented mindset.

The Time and Activity orientation can work for relatively simple and routine tasks, which can be easily done and switched from and to when you have just a moment to spare. As such, it seems a very sound approach in the production-line type of environments, especially in times of crisis, and again, it aligns perfectly with the 'Doing more with less' obsession! But only to a limited extent. If not, by overdoing the 'efficiency focus,' driven by the 'Doing more with less' mantra, it may become a goal in itself. It no longer serves as a means for creating better ways to realize goals. A friend of mine once stated: "The concept of Time prevents everything from happening at the same time…!" So let's appreciate that and prevent Time becoming a goal in itself. Of course, the same goes for Activity orientation as well.

Maintaining a results (deliverable) oriented approach

In conclusion, while keeping an eye on efficiency, our focus should be on effectiveness. The difference between efficient and effective is that efficiency refers to how well you do something (time and activity-oriented, doing things right). In contrast, effectiveness refers to its usefulness (much more goal and vision-oriented, doing the right things). With the above in mind, I rephrased the one-sided business mantra to a more holistic one: 'More deliverables with less!' I believe it's a much better one, not only for project environments. It will support us in maintaining a results-oriented (deliverable) approach in our projects. It also provides a better balance between and integration of effectiveness and efficiency. Efficiency is fine, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, in our priority setting, effectiveness should come first. For ensuring your effectiveness and success as a project manager, a deliverable-based project management plan is your first step … and as such, a tangible project management deliverable as well!

I wish you many effective projects in 2024!


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