Friday, September 6, 2013

Working Smart

Another good article (despite the title which I fear may send people down the wrong mental path)

Please Stop Complaining About How Busy You Are - Meredith Fineman - Harvard Business Review


The main message; that there is a distinction between working hard versus smart, is spot on.. But there's more depth to be had in this article than than a glib statement of the obvious.

I'll paraphrase, but one of the best observations Meredith makes is that she used to be a swot and that she used to diligently grind through all the detail:

One of my greatest lessons as a businessperson has been to throw out that skill set. This isn't to say you shouldn't be diligent or that you should half-heartedly execute, but rather, that it's crucial to know what you have to do as opposed to everything you could do. It's about being strategic.

Work smarter - not harder is about unlearning some of the skills and habits that made us successful, that got us so far, but will actually hold us back if we don't adapt.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Have I got your Time and Attention?

Four Areas Where Senior Leaders Should Focus Their Attention - Peter Bregman - Harvard Business Review

When you bring a senior leadership group together in a room, it's a massive commitment of resources. The hotel and food are the least of it. Even the consultant, if you're using one, is a negligible cost compared to the investment of monopolizing the focus of seven or eight highly compensated, time-starved leaders.
I was talking with an ex colleague of mine about ‘Leadership Away days'.  We both used to attend some pretty heavy all day ‘strategy meetings’ that were mostly a total waste of this commitment of resources.  I really wish this article had been written back then,  I’d have happily placed it on the agenda , firmly under the ‘undiscussable’ section and had the hard conversation.
With all that brainpower around the table, the focus of a senior meeting needs to be conversation, controversy, even conflict — not updates. Leaders should never sit and read together. They should be engaging and struggling with the organization's most critical and difficult-to-solve issues.
We wasted a LOT of time discussing the decisions that didn’t move the needle. This frustrated me immensely and is, in my opinion, one of the internal mental barriers that senior executives have intrinsically to ‘executive strategy meetings’. We’ve all sat in those meetings where you spend hour and hour discussing mid-level financials, operational performance, credit performance etc. Those of us that were any good, we knew this stuff inside out and backwards. It just wasted our time – or exposed those of us within the executive team that *didn’t** know their stuff… And that was even more frustrating.  These bad experiences have scared some people away from 'strategy meetings', at a real cost to the health of the business.
Every single thing you do as a leader needs to have an impact. Your job is to think big.
Love the idea of filtering discussion topics by the number of zeros involved. I’d personally add a ‘how many years’ involved filter. Dealing with "this year or next" should be dealt with in control meetings. Setting the course of the business over the next three, five, ten years. That’s the “big arrow” - that's thinking 'BIG'.

In conclusion.  Well run strategy meetings are essential and this article gives you some excellent pointers.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Don’t Overpromise on Your New Job
If you promise too much and fall short, you risk undermining your credibility
The term I like to use of OPUD (pronounced ‘Op Udd’) for those that Over Promise and Under Deliver.
Usage examples :

  • Yeah, they totally OPUD that project, didn’t they.
  • I feel totally and uterrly OPUD'd

How to Turn Notes and Mind Maps into Actionable Steps

Highly recommend this post. Excellent article
how to turn notes into actionable steps that you can implement.
As the author states, originally written about hwo to turn mindmaps into actions this apprach can be easily tasked to dealing with email, written documents, letters etc.

Impress your boss in 60 seconds :: Men's Health
Maybe a little too full on. But the simply asking for more time in relation to a work related objective is effective.

How to Help Someone Vent

Is it just me? I got a little stuck on the authors use of ‘she’ in this article. Other than that, seems like solid advice and added to me reference material.