This excellent post by Joel struck home (The gorilla with too many hats), and made me think.
Many project managers started out as individual contributors, and may have strong technical skills in a given domain. In an era of "do less with more", it is tempting for a project manager to step in and "just do" a few tasks for a project.
From the perspective of management, it may be tempting to solve resource gaps by asking the project manager to do some coding, build a quick prototype, perform some research, make some decision, run the project server, serve as a technical backstop for escalations, send newsletters, provide technical support to a customer, help close a sale...
As Joel mentions (and as I keep seeing whenever I read about how the mind works), "interruptions seriously affect performance. A single 30 second interruption can result in a 15 minute work loss." When the project manager serves as the focal point for communication and multiple projects and multiple stakeholders, randomization can end up killing as much of your day as meetings.
How can a project manager identify where they add the most value to their organization, set clear boundaries about what they will do (which is only a subset of what they can do), and protect those boundaries?