productivity

Goodbye 2014; On to 2015!

December 29, 2014

Top Ten List

image: www.sdfcs.org

I hope you are enjoying this holiday season. No matter which holiday you celebrate, this is a time to slow down, relish time with family and friends, reflect on the past year, and think ahead to the new year.

In that spirit, I want to share with you my “Top Ten” newsletters/blog posts for 2014, based roughly on which of them you opened most often.

You’ll see quickly that my recent focus on corporate conversations dominates this list, but it also includes several other important observations about the future of work.

So, here goes, from the top down:

1. Mindsets are More Important than Skillsets

There are hundreds of books about how to conduct meetings, yet most corporate meetings are dull, unproductive time wasters. What’s going on? Why don’t leaders do what they know how to do? I suggested here that the attitudes and mindsets of team leaders are far more important than meeting management skillsets. [click to continue…]

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Put the Why Before the What

December 22, 2014

animated-wreath-bellsFirst of all, best wishes for this holiday season – and for every day of the rest of your life. December is a time for slowing down, spending time with your family and friends, and appreciating the blessings of being alive in this exciting time.

Please take some time this week to reflect on the year that is ending, and do some serious thinking about the incredible opportunities that lie ahead in 2015.

Here are a few questions that might help with your reflections:

  • Why are you focused on what you are focused on?
  • What are you most proud of that you accomplished this year?
  • What opportunities did you let slip away?
  • What do you want to stop doing next year?
  • What do you want to start doing?
  • Deep down, what do you care about? Why?

But please don’t fall into the trap of making overly ambitious new year’s resolutions; if they are difficult to achieve, or presume a sudden change of habits, or require new skills that you haven’t mastered yet, the chances are you won’t accomplish your goals, and you’ll end up beating up on yourself.

Focus less on the What and more on the Why. [click to continue…]

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InternetYesterday I wanted to understand a definition of leadership that I’d heard about at a recent conference. I typed the first four words of the definition into my browser search engine, hit Return, and in 0.42 seconds I had a list of over 58,000,000 relevant links. 58 million links! In 0.42 seconds!

Many of us don’t really understand how fortunate we are to be alive in 2014. Each of us has access to practically all the world’s recorded knowledge, whenever we want it, no matter where we are, in almost no time at all, and at practically no cost.

Not only that, but each of us can also communicate with almost every other human being, no matter where that person is, almost instantaneously, and again at almost no cost.

And every one of us can publish our ideas and our opinions on a global basis. In the last week alone my website has been visited by people from countries as far away from my home base as South Africa, Namibia, Russia, Iran, India, China, Australia, Vietnam, Brazil, and Nigeria (among many others).

I’m not bragging; I am simply astounded. [click to continue…]

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Ask Me About My BookIt happened again. I was at a National Speakers Association Northern California Chapter event on Saturday, proudly wearing my button that reads “Ask Me About My Book” (a gift from Cathy Fyock, my writing coach).

Several people did ask (thank you!), and I responded something like this:

Thanks for asking. The working title of the book is Changing the Corporate Conversation. I want to improve the quality of meetings and all kinds of conversations at work. I’m convinced the workforce as a whole is wasting millions of hours of time attending mundane, non-productive meetings of all kinds. My goal is to enable people to design and lead innovative, productive meetings that leverage the talent inherent in every organization.

How did that premise strike people? [click to continue…]

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BizMeeting 000018482966XSmallHow often have you walked into a corporate meeting wondering why you were there? Or walked out angrily after wasting an hour getting absolutely nothing done?

As a good friend said recently, “Meetings are the bane of our existence.” And if you want to generate universal consensus, just make a comment about how horrible most meetings are.

What’s going on? In my experience there are two major shortcomings in the way most meetings are handled. And I’ve developed a four-question checklist to help me and my clients turn meetings into productive, energizing experiences.

[click to continue…]

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That’s the title of my article that was just published on Huffington Post – my first submission and first acceptance.

I’m very proud of that accomplishment, but what matters is that you read my analysis of why management is so broken, and what we should be doing to replace it.

Here’s the link to the post: Don’t Fix Management; Replace It.

Please read it, and then comment there, or comment here – but don’t just read it and forget it. Act on it!

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As I reflect on the history of work on this Labor Day holiday (in the United States) I am thinking that I don’t need a workplace; I need many workplaces.

Of course, I can only be in one place at a time. But sometimes I need to be in one place, and sometimes in another.

I am a knowledge worker. I use my head to create value. Sure, I use my hands too, but mostly just to hit some little square pieces of plastic in a particular sequence that produces images of text on a computer screen. Sometimes I hold a pen or pencil and spread ribbons of ink (or graphite) on paper as another way to create and capture my ideas. But however I record my musings, it’s what goes on in my head that matters.

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Small Talk Isn’t Small

August 25, 2014

There’s nothing small about small talk.

conversations1In western economies it has almost become a cultural norm to spend the first five or ten minutes of a formal meeting engaging with the other participants in what we call “small talk.” You know, those pre-call-to-order conversations that seem to just happen as people arrive in the meeting room – conversations that begin with questions and comments like:

  •  “How was your weekend?’
  •  “What are your kids up to?
  •  “Man, it’s way too hot this summer!” (or, “Can you believe how cold it was last night!”)
  •  “How about those 49ers! Is Kaepernick a world-class quarterback or what? [well, I can dream]
  •  “Congratulations! I just heard about your daughter’s gymnastics victory last night.”
  •  “Hey, I just heard that Freddie in marketing got a big promotion because of that killer ad campaign he designed.”

Most of us think of those topics as trivial, and primarily a way to kill time until everyone arrives and the “real” meeting starts. And yes, they do help occupy people’s minds until the host calls the meeting to order. But they can also make or break the “real meeting” that follows.

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What does a fish know about the water in which he swims all his life?” (Albert Einstein)

I’ve become convinced that the “water” in which organizations swim is the conversations that take place every day, in meetings, in hallways, in the executive suite, on phone calls, in email exchanges, and in marketing materials and contract negotiations.

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There is only one of you

June 30, 2014

Ponder this for a moment:  as big and as global as the Internet is, every single human being is born with a far more impressive network. It’s called a brain.

I learned last week from author Steven Campbell (Making Your Mind Magnificent) that the human brain has  more than 100 billion neurons (that’s not a typo!). But, as Campbell says,

…this is nothing! Each of those neurons has an average of 10,000 connections to other neurons. This computes to 100,000,000,000 connections! That is a quantity found by multiplying 100 billion times 100 billion, times 100 billion…ten thousand times. As a comparison, 100 billion multiplied by 40,000 is a number larger than the number of stars in the Milky Way. We truly cannot fathom the number of connections our brain has.

(Making Your Mind Magnificent, p.4)

Campbell is describing the network inside just one human brain! And there are upwards of 7 billion human beings alive today – most of them in possession of a functioning brain.

[click to continue…]

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