I have been on vacation in the UK, a big deal for someone who has had a triple bypass, since it involved a nine hour trans Atlantic flight. Being the recipient of a CABG has a way of moving your “bucket list” from the status of “I’ll get around to it” to “better get started, pronto”.
Most of the week in London was spent "getting culture", as I trailed my wife around the National Gallery, the V&A. Museum, the Courtauld Gallery, both Tate museums- British and Modern -, and the Wallace Collection: Lots of Gainsboroughs, Turners, Monets, Manets, plenty of impressionists, classicists, modernists, with a smidgen of cartoonist. By the end of the week I was in dire need of another ‘ist’, a chiropodist!
However I did manage to visit Prime Minister Winston Churchill's war rooms under the UK treasury building: the place where he directed the British war effort from 1940 until 1945.
One of the key exhibits is a collection of map rooms that Churchill ordered to be created showing the current worldwide deployment of British forces. These maps were kept up to date, 24/7,throughout the war. Only ceasing when the conflict finished in August 1945.
At a glance the PM, other members of the war cabinet, and the Chiefs of the Imperial General Staff, could see the current position of the war in any theatre: Europe, Middle East, Far East, etc, For the British, along with the Americans later on, were fighting a global war; the other participants were not! So it was important that the leaders could see, and be reminded of, the whole picture and not get sucked into concentrating upon one area, to the detriment of the wider conflict.
The lesson I drew from this museum is that every project manager needs her map room, virtual or otherwise, where she regularly, daily or weekly, looks at her project in total and resists the temptation to focus narrowly on the crisis of the day. So that the important is not crowded out by the merely urgent.
The technique I use is to mind map (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map) my project or projects and to review and update the diagrams at least every week. At the end of the review I prepare an action list of project tasks that need to be done in the next week. That way I minimize the chances of important actions being overlooked.