Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Execution, Productivity, and Time

Here is what I know about getting things done in a large organization.

l. The amount of time put into work whether day to day or strategic initiative does not equal what you get out of the time. So measuring the time taken doesn’t matter unless you absolutely know that the time “taken” from other stuff  matters more.

2. How you design the use of time can make a sea change difference. Fifty hours for 10 people can be two hours a week for twenty-five weeks or one five day week every day. Each is good at getting different things done.

3. Setting a deadline is an art. Too close and anxiety and sloppiness cause waste and too distant and project fatigue settles over the creativity and urgency and smothers it. A right timed rock and a hard place can produce in an unexpected way.

4. Breaking work in to too many milestones and mini-deadlines seems controlled  and tidy but can kill the serendipity of more looseness in the work so that it can veer where it needs to veer. I’ve seen work head into a dead end because the right turn/change was not taken or made.

5. Big projects that attract resources and executive sponsorship can become an elite club. The participants get special training, perks, and attention. When there are a multitude of these, there is a talent drain from the every day work and also a burdened elite serving on too many special initiatives. The core business needs to count more than the projects.

6. Straining toward creativity and producing new doesn’t work. People need breaks from concentration. There is a kind of idea fatigue or mental gridlock that occurs. There needs to be an intuitive flow of push and relax and push and play and letting go. Hand to the flame ceates diminishing returns almost hour by hour.

7. Personal productivity is idiosyncratic. Every executive has their own system. Some leaders know exactly how to procrastinate so that when that Board report is due, they wait for the pressure to build. Many have come-up files for tracking work. Some have elaborate calendars on the wall. Mis-use of the calendar is one of the biggest execution drainers for the top leaders. Rather than start with the set meetings for the year which begins to kill executive flexibility immediately, the yearly or longer timeline should be guided by goals for the year and focused on how to create momentum and accomplishment. Who and what do I need to see and how often to make this year productive from a top leader point of view.

8. Meetings are a mis-used vehicles for getting things done. There is too much talk about what has been done, reporting to make everyone feel like there is progress and solving problems that should be solved somewhere else. The question for each meeting should be what major goal are we furthering together in this meeting and what is the best method to do it.

10. Gathering places, cafeteria moments, hallways, informal in and out of offices is where hidden productivity comes from. Bumping into one another to chat about work,works. Off the record unformed ideas, a seemingly silly solution, a new approach need some time to gather momentum and shape before facing a deaded formal meeting.

As with most organizational opimization, the balance is between art and science and then balance has to be calibrated all of the ———time.



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