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Blog:On Focus: Product Engineering

Manny Becerra as a child

April 2016

I thought I'd continue where I left off last month along the lines of creating and sustaining a high-performing team and inclusive workspace by letting information flow. Another incredient that I have found helpful and valuable to both me and my team's success is: focus.

Be accommodating yet ruthlessly focused on the big picture.

There's a lot of information flowing in-and-out of our eyes, ears, and minds, both on- and off- the screen on any given day that it can distract from what's most important to accomplish right now. For instance, if you add-up every few minutes you're distracted from what's most important to accomplish because of a text message, a news notification or a co-worker driving-by to shoot the breeze or request scope creep in a project, it adds up to a noticeable amount.

Whether you're a contributor on a team or leading a team, it's important to reduce the distractions—even the things that may seem important, but perhaps not important the very moment they show up on your screen or in your physical surroundings.

Recharge; enjoy the ride and celebrate the small-to-big milestones. It's good—needed!—to kickback and enjoy the fruits of your and your team's hardwork with some fun distractions.

Minimizing distractions

When you can minimize distractions, work in an interdependent way, and lead and participate with empathy and compassion great things can happen.

A few things to consider for minimizing distractions in your product engineering environment:

  • Periodically mute your notifications on-screen (e.g. on your laptop and phone), but filter your notifications so the key people in your life (personally and professionally) can still reach you if needed
  • As a leader, establish processes with your direct team and cross-functional teams so everyone can still feel heard, and when necessary, have a way to escalate an actual urgent request to take appropriate, immediate action on; otherwise, general requests have a way of getting into a bucket for review and prioritization at a later date
  • As a leader, provide your team with a clear goal or path toward success; what are you aiming to do and accomplish and by when
  • As a contributor, ask your leader, if its' unclear, for your team's near and long term goals (prior bullet) and for a clear process for taking in requests (two bullets above) so you have a way, for example, to respond to stakeholder drive-bys in a manner that is still customer service oriented yet doesn't pull you away from something else more important at the moment
  • Keep meetings to a reasonable minimum. Don't have meetings for the sake of having meetings; have a clear objective for what needs to be accomplished, otherwise, it can be an expensive group gathering that may not add value or move the needled toward your end-goal.

With all that said, be accommodating, or flexible as change is constant in all of our lives, yet be ruthlessly focused on the big picture. When you can minimize distractions, work in an interdependent way, and lead and participate with empathy and compassion great things can happen.

Lastly, recharge; enjoy the ride and celebrate the small-to-big milestones. It's good—needed!—to kickback and enjoy the fruits of your and your team's hardwork with some distractions so you're ready-to-go for the next go-around.

Manny


I am human, a father, and a problem solver: a tech and people leader with a passion and proven track-record in building and leading compassionate, productive teams—remote and on-site—within a continuous learning culture. My teams and I champion usable, inclusive digital products and online experiences. My work, passion and intentions also intersect with advising small businesses and political campaigns, life-long learning, outdoor advocacy, community building, and uplifting others. Learn more about Manny