On a recent project we faced the following, fairly common situation:
As Greg McKeown says 'Set your priorities before someone else does it for you!' (I may be paraphrasing)
From many years ago, when 'Rapid Application Development' (RAD) was the buzzword, we used a tool called the Moscow list for prioritising business requirements. We decided to apply the same concept to the project team. The Moscow list of priorities for each team member for the week included the activities grouped under:
They had to be Smart objectives (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound).
So what did drawing up a simple weekly to do list bring us?
Focus : a common language and model for people to be able to say no to requests that are not on their list of priorities. (The 'Won't' section is a way to say, I know I have to work on this, but not this week.)
Buy-in : letting team members set their own objectives gives more realistic estimates
Responsibility : putting the responsibility on each team member to reach their goals, and to raise any issues that might prevent them from doing so
Peer review : everyone's list is published and review in a scrum, so setting the bar intentionally low is not acceptable
Achievement : checking off items that everyone agrees are important gives a sense of satisfaction, achievement, and progress
Collaboration : people are more willing to help out when they realize the priority or importance of what you are doing, and can gauge the request against their own priorities.
Continuous improvement : when people miss their deadlines or their estimates are repeatedly inaccurate it gives you a chance to dig into the real reasons behind that, are the activities too high-level and need to be broken down? is the definition of the activity clear, and understood by everyone? etc
It is far from a full-blown methodology, but when a team is thrown together with the kind of constraints listed above, it is a quick a simple productivity booster. Give it a try, I will post a template.