productivity

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…]

{ 4 comments }

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…]

{ 2 comments }

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!

{ 2 comments }

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.

[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

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.

[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

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.

[click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

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…]

{ 4 comments }

Instant Mind Meld

June 9, 2014

Twitter is the best way we humans have to broadcast instant messages (short and sweet) to our colleagues – and to the whole world. And we all know the profound impact that Twitter has had on our global society, most clearly in the context of recent populist uprisings in the Middle East.

Yes, there are undoubtedly many more mundane messages on Twitter (and Facebook) than there are life-changing ones; but the impact of the messages that matter is worth all the idiotic ones about who you had coffee with, what your baby sister said this morning, or how much water your cat drank out of the toilet (and never forget that what you consider mundane might be cherished by someone else).

Once you get past those trivialities, our ability to send essentially instantaneous broadcast messages to almost every other human being on the planet is far more profound than most of us realize.

[click to continue…]

{ 6 comments }

Listen to Your Mother

May 27, 2014

Mother Nature, that is.

No, this is not a rant about climate change (although I hope you know how important that is).

Rather, I think it is imperative for us to learn from living systems as we design organizations and determine how to manage them.

I spent most of this past holiday weekend outdoors (it was Memorial Day here in the United States, a time when we honor our military veterans, remember their sacrifices, and give thanks for their service).

We enjoyed wonderful weather, and the inherent beauty of the mountains, streams, forests, and fresh air reminded me of how much we can learn from thinking about the world we are so fortunate to inhabit.

[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

As I suggested last week (“Thinking About Thinking“), in today’s fast-paced business world it’s extremely difficult to find time to think on our own – and thus to be creative. Pressure for productivity, in combination with open office designs, means that not only are most of us collaborating with others most of the time, but we often can’t find a quiet place in the office even when we actually want some private “think time.”

But in turns out my analysis left out an incredibly important factor that makes our quest for creativity even more difficult than I realized. And may be making us more obese than we’d like.

My colleague and close friend Candace Fitzpatrick, the founder and president of CoreClarity, gently pointed out to me a few days ago that the biggest barrier to creativity in the workplace may well be stress – the tension we feel to perform at high levels, to respond quickly to emails and voice messages, and to accept as “normal” the insecurities many of us feel about our jobs and our lives more broadly.

[click to continue…]

{ 0 comments }