Business Management

6 Ways You Can Do Less and Still Contribute to IT's Goals

If you could do less, why would you do more? 

Sounds like a bit of riddle, but my point is to look at ways to do less to ultimately shift work efforts from activities that you are doing today, to work that will increasingly contribute more value to your business. 

Do less by working on the right priorities to make IT an even more strategic partner to the business. Doesn't that sound great?

Your Opportunity

For many years, one measure of an IT organization’s productivity was how far the team worked through a long task list - often showing a backlog of tasks.

You have an opportunity to change the paradigm for IT. Now, instead of working on a long punch list of activities, you might have five key activities to focus on. Your goal is to produce a clear return on investment for the business. Also, it is important to realize this shift will not decrease your value to our organization. You will be measured by what you deliver back to the organization, not by the number of things you do.

Making Trade-Offs To Be Even More Strategic

Each year business units at companies around the world request an exorbitant number of projects and activities from IT teams. In today’s business climate where budgets are extremely tight, the business cannot and should not fund every single activity or project. So accordingly, I encourage IT teams to do “less” in order to increasingly act as a strategic business partner. And yes, as an organization you will have to make trade-offs with internal business partners to better focus on and align with your top business strategies.

Ways To Do Less:

1. Look at the Big Picture

Step one is to familiarize yourself with your company's goals and objectives and learn how your team’s priorities cascade accordingly. This will empower you to see connections and give you a sense of direction. According to Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, "A mere 7% of employees today fully understand their company's business strategies and what's expected of them in order to help achieve company goals."*

2. Align 

Always align your work and goals to the broader organization goals. I believe this will help you and your team(s) understand and feel in sync with the broader organization. If you don’t know how to align your role and “to dos” with the top goals and objectives, ask your manager and work on it together. Also, I encourage you to speak up and ask questions.


Does everything on your plate feel equally important? Once initiatives, projects and activities are aligned to the broader goals and objectives, the next step is to prioritize everything you have to do. This will help you to focus your energy on the things that really matter. Good prioritization can also reduce stress by making clear what you are going to do and what you are not going to do.

4. Set Expectations

In all cases, doing less works best if expectations are set with others. If you are going to be diligent by making it clear what you are going to do versus what you are not going to do, you have to set reasonable expectations upfront. Start by having early conversations with stakeholders. Focus on how you are doing the right things to add more value to your business.

5. Question

Asking questions effectively is a great skill in business. Speak up and ask questions if you don’t understand something or more importantly, don’t see the value. And if you feel something is not a value add, make a recommendation for an alternative solution. People need to hear your ideas.

6. Stay on track 

What if you find yourself resisting “doing less?” I know it’s tempting to take a hands-on approach and charge ahead to just get things done. We all can get caught up in the day-to-day fire drills. But I urge you to stay on track. To lead change, at an individual and leadership level, you have to embrace doing less to get more of the right things done. Don’t worry that doing less will put you on a fast track to irrelevance. It’s quite the opposite. Setting and keeping clear priorities is one of the best ways to be more effective while helping to reach business goals more effectively.


* Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, "The Strategy-Focused Organization," Harvard Business School Press, 2001


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