Project Serial Monogamy

Day 070 Week 10 Q1 Monday, March 11, 2024

Let’s be clear: we are not talking about romantic relationships between partners. We were talking about being focused on a project to get it done before moving on to the next one. And Copilot made a spelling eror which does not seem to be correctable. The web defines the phrase: 

What is serial monogamy? A serial monogamist moves from one romantic relationship to another very quickly, spending as little time single as possible. 

What if it were not a romantic relationship with a person but a romantic relationship with an all-consuming idea or a project?

I have met many impressively productive people in my life, and when I asked them how they got so much done, they often answered one thing at a time. One CEO told me I needed to be more serial and less parallel. Now, this refers more to climbing steep learning curves to perfect new skills than continuing to do only one thing.  This CEO, whose name was Bob, ran a medical image processing company and was also an excellent musician and woodworker. He claimed to have become a good musician first, then a good woodworker, and finally became a good CEO who still knew how to perform and work with wood. He was really good at all of these and claimed the only way to do this was serially, not at the same time.

When you try to learn a bunch of new skills and develop several new workflows at once, it generally does not go well. When you have twenty different ideas for projects in mind and want to manifest any of them, you do have to focus for at least long enough to ratchet up to the next level before changing gears and directions. I have learned the hard way that, although I can start multiple projects at the same time, it is far more difficult to complete multiple projects at the same time. Of course, this is why organizations have management structures where managers manage groups of other people and where executives manage managers.

And if you have recently become a manager or an executive and are still trying to complete small deep-dive solo projects simultaneously well, good luck with that. You can, but during that time, you have to stop managing. This can be temporary, and then you can return to managing. Once you are no longer new to management and delegation, then you can get to the point where it does not take all of your time because you have learned how to do it well, and then you can break off the time to do some deep-dive smaller projects.

I am all for romantic relationships with new workflows and processes, but have become wary of juggling too many partners, I mean ideas, at the same time.