How to Have Simple and Effective Processes

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Reading time: 1 min.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

–Albert Einstein

Our companies thrive when we have the simplest possible systems, processes, and policies. Anything too simple would be incomplete and cause confusion and waste. Anything too cumbersome will slow us down.

How, then, would we put Einstein’s advice into practice? It’s simple, of course! For any system, process, or policy,

  • Work back from the desired results. Start at the end and ask, “What do we need to have this outcome?” Then repeat the question until we get to the beginning. Whatever we build will be as simple as possible. Desired results describe what we want to happen for how much investment of time, energy, and money.
  • Add safeguards to address only those potential errors with unacceptably high expected costs (probability of it occurring times cost in relationship currency, dollars, and time).
  • Agree to revisit/redesign the systems, process, or policy whenever the desired results (outcomes and/or investment needed to get those outcomes) start slipping.

Simple.

 

In your corner,

Mike

Today’s photo credit: photosteve101 Pencil’s nib / pencil close up / macro / with with cross-section paper via photopin (license)

Hafta Versus Gonna

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action
Reading time: 2 min.

There’s a fundamental flaw that makes all time (or task) management awful. When we think about time management, we make the unwitting assumption that we “hafta” do, dump, delegate, or do later all the tasks that come our way. “I hafta answer that email. I gotta give Margie that feedback. I need to lose 5 pounds. I hafta reduce my environmental footprint.” Since there is no way we can ever get to all the things, the tasks just pile up. And we spend energy feeling bad about or trying to ignore it all.

Here’s a better way to think of it: let’s consider all the tasks that come to us as things we might do. From this perspective, we can happily let things pile up. “I might answer that email. I could complete the TPS report. I might book a ride in a helicopter. I could launch a line of parakeet clothing.”

Next, let’s get clear on what we really want to accomplish. We can do this by answering the question, “How will I know I’ve done a good job here?”

Then we step into a productive flow by asking ourselves, “What feels best? From all the things in the pile, what am I gonna do? What do I choose to do now?”

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Flow much better, ya?

 

Today’s photo credit: davdenic Colors via photopin (license)

No Rules Say We Have To Start There

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 1 min.

Most of us know the leverage of feeling good before getting into action. Feeling good makes everything flow so much better. But it is often difficult or impossible to feel good about a topic that is important to us. For example, most of us will find it hard to feel good about an upcoming encounter with a challenging colleague. Try as we might, it’s just too tough some days to find good-feeling thoughts about this. Luckily, we don’t have to.

There are no rules that say we must feel good about the topic-at-hand. Well, not immediately, at least. Intead of trying to feel good about our colleague and the upcoming conversation, we can achieve a great buzz level by starting with good-feeling thoughts about anything else. Puppies. Strawberries. The freshness of the air outside. Anything.

Once we reach a good-feeling place, we can return our attention to the topic-at-hand and much more easily find and benefit from good-feeling thoughts about it.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: brianarn Universe Closed via photopin (license)

So, You Say You Want Better Results

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

Okay. Maybe we are convinced that jumping into action to get desired results is problematic. Perhaps there is something useful in raising our buzz–that is, to feeling good–then acting as inspired to generate better results. But why does raising our buzz seem so difficult?

Mostly, it’s because we are fighting age-old, inherited habits. We are so used to (1) reacting to outside influences and (2) thinking that we have to figure things out and get into action to handle those outside influences. Any attempt we make to raise our buzz (that is, feeling good despite the outside influences) presses against those two habits. It is hard to do. But here’s the thing: saying it’s hard makes it harder. (See?)

So we need a way to gently, lightly move ourselves away from reacting to outside influences and toward an inner-generated, high-buzz perspective.

What works is starting with small, daily practice. Being playful about it also helps. It is especially useful to do this practice as we are going to bed and as we wake up. It takes just a few minutes each time. Within a few days, we will notice a difference. And inside a month, whoa!

Keep going.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Arya Ziai September 13, 2013 at 09:58PM via photopin (license)

It’s Very Hard Work

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 1 min.

We talk about approaching our piles of tasks with ease. We note how jumping into action when feeling tense, angry, or otherwise bad about stuff is counterproductive. And we at least suspect that taking the time to first feel good then act is a smart way to go.

Yet many people complain that we advocate being lazy, not getting stuff done, or ignoring what’s important. They insist that success comes primarily from hard work.

And there, they are right.

It takes lots of hard work–focus, concentration, discernment, and organization–to replace our habit of jumping into action with a habit of doing whatever it takes to first feel good, then act as inspired. When we do, though, wow!

Gotta do the right hard work.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Amanda Slater from Coventry, England (Suffolk Horses Ploughing) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

re: Never Mind the Pile

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 1 min.

A large pile of tasks can make us feel anxious, annoyed, or apoplectic. We think that these feelings are a reaction to the pile–a call to buckle down, push harder, and make stuff happen.

Nope.

That feeling is the wiser part of us sending us a memo: “Never mind the pile. You’re fine. You’re just thinking about it the wrong way. There’s an easier, more fulfilling way. That pile isn’t a threat. Nor are the stories you make up about what would happen if you don’t do them correctly, on time, or to someone else’s satisfaction. What you fear is baseless. Action taken when buzzing low is always counterproductive. Be easy about it all. Things always work out. You will never get through the pile; you’re always adding more. Think of it as a “could do” pile, not a “to do” pile. Breathe. Get perspective. Enjoy the process. You’ve done this before. You’ve got this now. Yes. Feel good, raise your buzz, then act from the ensuing inspiration. Repeat. And enjoy the results.”

Better?

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: The stronger the feeling, the more imperative the memo.

Today’s photo credit: Allysse Riordan Piling up via photopin (license)

The One Thing We Forget About Getting Stuff Done

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

We spend much of our energy on getting everything done either by ourselves or through others. But there never seems to be enough time. So we stress and steam and push and plead to get everyone into action and producing.

But we regularly leave out one thing that would simplify things and speed the results we seek: trust.

When we trust that everything works out for us, that others are fundamentally good, and that we can handle anything that comes up, we pave the way. People gain confidence, we are not bogged down in stress, and results come shockingly quickly and well.

Most of us have seen how this trust works. But in the tension of the day and against the backdrop of the what the world generally believes, we forget. The sooner we remember that the key is, “believing is seeing”–not the other way around–the easier it will be.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: This version of trust means that we feel good about the desired results–as if they have already occurred–before they actually show up. If we feel bad, we aren’t trusting and will fall back into the slower, more stressful way: doing stuff to make things happen.

PPS: What does it look like to feel good before the results show up? It will be different for each person. To get started, try doing a ladder exercise with “how it is now” at the bottom of the ladder and the desired results at the top. Once you get to the feeling at the top, it will be very easy to see how to trust, feel good, and jump into inspired action.

PPPS: And it will become easy for others to pick up on your excitement and get inspired themselves.

PPPPS: Trust does not supplant action. As we trust, we will see the next best thing to do: make that call, write that note, work that spreadsheet. But we won’t be acting to feel better and cause a result. That’s so important.

 

Today’s photo credit: Ulf Bodin Uppsala, March 21, 2015 via photopin (license)

Selecting What NOT To Get Done

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action
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It’s not about getting it all done. We can’t even get most of it done. There’s just too much we could do and more is always coming.

The trick is to get good at selecting only the best things to get done. And to actively NOT do the rest.

To do this, we first give ourselves and our teams permission not to get everything done. Otherwise, the stress and guilt will derail us. Next we set aside time daily and weekly to choose those best things to get done. Otherwise, we’ll be too reactive. Then we dedicate time monthly and quarterly for reflection and planning. Otherwise, our strategy will get stale, we’ll clash with each other over what we should be doing, and the reactive fire-fighting will creep back in.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: What’s the most important thing to get done today? (See, you knew the answer right away.)

 

Today’s photo credit: Tim Pierce accomplished (344/365) via photopin (license)

Productivity Boost From NOT Improving Your Productivity System

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action
Reading time: 2 min.

A productivity system helps us capture, organize, and plan things to do. Whether we use an electronic or paper-based system, we want it to be fast, seamless, and very easy to use. So we seek out the best techniques and tools to craft our system.

But that quest works against our productivity. It wastes our time and distracts us from doing our most productive work.

We may be wasting time. We can always find ways to make our system better. But we can spend way too much time finding, studying, and trying new techniques and systems that promise organizational nirvana. We then fall into the trap of over-tweaking our system instead of getting stuff done.

We’re missing the big productivity win. The more we focus on having the perfect system, the more likely we will become great at filling it with tasks but distracted from the biggest productivity win. This win is something that only we–not our system–can do: choosing what’s best to work on.  To do this well, we rely our systems but control the inputs and outputs. For the inputs, we decipher what each email, request, and idea that crosses our path means to us. For the outputs, we choose which things are best to work on now, which we should do later or delegate, and which we should trash. We mostly work these inputs and outputs during dedicated, relaxed daily and weekly planning sessions.

Put a moratorium on tweaks to (or wholesale swaps of) your system. Instead, build the habit of daily and weekly review sessions. Get good at pruning the inputs and choosing what’s best (most important, exciting, fulfilling) to work on next.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit:
Charles D P Miller
cc

Getting Them To Do

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 1 min.

If we ask, “How do I get them to do this thing I want them to do?” we’ll be asking the wrong question. The right questions are, “What do they deep down want? And how can what I/we do/want help them get there?”

This is true always, regardless of who they are, what they want, and what we want.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Francisco Araújo _ Center Bike cc