I am going to start with yesterday’s example. Let’s say you are planning on going to Aruba. You have your tickets and are doing all the other thing if you need to do. Then your spouse or traveling companion decides that it would be great if you stopped off at Lego Land for a day because, well, everything is awesome. That might cause some difficulty with your trip. What turned out to be a relatively straightforward goal has now been changed dramatically.
In the world of projects, this is called scope creep. You have a set of goals that you’re working towards and then, quite likely through good intentions, another goal gets added. This complicates the work to achieve the original goals or causes a lot of extra work that was not planned on. Watch out for it. Because it can be insidious.
Suppose you are working on a new patient protocol and determining which people you want in the room with a patient what equipment you want and how you’re going to proceed. The goal is to set up guidelines that this specifically focus on this type patient contact. But while you are in the room, you realize that the guards on the sides of the beds, the ones that prevent patients are rolling out, really could be better. This is a noteworthy finding and this is something that it would be good to follow-up on, but is not part of your project. If the guards were causing a problem, preventing you from accomplishing your project goals, that would be part of your project.
But it is still important. So what do you do?
If it is something that is related to your project, and it is going to cause additional work or delays, then it should be discussed among your project team whether it will be added your project and what adjustments to tasks, budgets, or timeline need to be made. If it is unrelated to your project, a separate project and a separate charter should be created for it or the work should be done by whoever is responsible if it is big enough warrant a project.
But distractions for this like this will pop up over and over. When you are looking to improve a process, you will notice lots of other things that are happening in the same area. This is great, because you are really looking deeply into things that are going on, but you will be much more effective finishing one project at a time than adding a lot of extra tasks to existing projects. Other things might become more important, but any time you have to change the scope of the project, everyone on your team, including your sponsor, should be involved.
So, again, enjoy Aruba and/or Lego Land. Just keep your focus.