Four degrees of separation that help simplify work

From: http://changingminds.org/blog/0902blog/090225blog.htm

Much work these days is packaged up as projects, with plans, resources and time-bound deliverables. Managing projects is a skill as the various risks and issues can easily trip you up. In particular the sheer complexity can cause much extra work and conceal important issues.

Here, then, are four ways of making things simpler by separating out things that need your attention in different ways.

1. Separate rapidly changing things from slowly changing things. This makes changes (and communication about them) easier. For example a strategic plan, which changes little is separated from a rapidly-changing tactical plan.

2. Separate things that require attention now from points of information. This allows a sharper focus on action. For example items that require decisions may be covered first in a meeting, then information discussions continued in the remaining time.

3. Separate planned action from unexpected action. This allows both to be clearly managed and for plans to be revised as needed. For example issues are managed separately from standard project plans, thus allowing both onto the stage.

4. Separate internal project communications from external communications. Internal communications can be detailed, technical, textual and full of jargon. External communications should be focused, brief, visual and use Plain English.

You can also use the principle of separation to create clarity in documents and presentations by:

* Using colour, bold fonts, and other visual contrasts.
* Using lines and physical separation.
* Visual/physical separation into sections, pages, documents.

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