Taming Workflow Processes: Xerox’s Productive Innovations

Taming 15 Workflow Processes

  Ultimately, boosting productivity boils down to building and honing efficient workflow processes that automate and routinize tasks, projects, and services. Luckily for us, our rapidly converging computing, communications, and time-management technologies can't help but yield rational work processes that repeatedly raise the bar on productivity. It's enough to make you wonder how we ever did without our electronics. The truth is, those of us who remember the pre-computer era recall it as a period of slow if steady productivity, when there was often no point in hurrying. The system constrained us to the point where 9-5 workdays and five-year plans still made sense. This might sound like a Golden Age of office work… but don't let the nostalgia fool you. The slowness of it all … [Read more...]

Taming Workflow Processes: Xerox’s Productive Innovations

Taming 15 Workflow Processes

Ultimately, boosting productivity boils down to building and honing efficient workflow processes that automate and routinize tasks, projects, and services. Luckily for us, our rapidly converging computing, communications, and time-management technologies can't help but yield rational work processes that repeatedly raise the bar on productivity. It's enough to make you wonder how we ever did without our electronics. The truth is, those of us who remember the pre-computer era recall it as a period of slow if steady productivity, when there was often no point in hurrying. The system constrained us to the point where 9-5 workdays and five-year plans still made sense. This might sound like a Golden Age of office work… but don't let the nostalgia fool you. The slowness of it all frustrated m … [Read more...]

Compiling the Team To-Do Lists: How Far Ahead Can You Actually Plan?

Compiling The Team ToDo List

"If you have a dream, you can spend a lifetime studying, planning, and getting ready for it. What you should be doing is getting started." Drew Houston, American entrepreneur and founder of DropBox. In recent years, it's become almost impossible to do the long-term planning corporations were once famous for. Oh, you can do it, but the business world moves so fast and changes so rapidly, a traditional three- or five-year plan can derail within months. I've discussed this topic in detail numerous times in recent articles, blogs and books. But most of those writings have been at a high managerial level, when in fact this inability to plan ahead affects us all at a more granular, personal level. Not only can companies no longer effectively plan for the long-term, neither can teams or, … [Read more...]

Seven Cures for Sagging Productivity Blues: The Summer Slump

Seven Cures for the Sagging Productivity Blues - the Dreaded Summer Slump

"In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer." -- Albert Camus, French writer. As the mercury begins to rise in earnest at the end of Q1, the American worker's thoughts turn fondly to fun in the sun… and you know what that means. Soon, you'll face one of the great banes of business performance: the dreaded summer slump (click to tweet). With upcoming vacations to serve as slow-downs, the season isn't likely to serve as a shining beacon of productivity for your team. Instead of agonizing about the inevitable decline ahead, think long-term. Sometimes you just need a break before you break. Often, by the time May rolls around, we've had it up to here with the bustle of post-holiday catch-up, juggling the new work that pours in during the f … [Read more...]

It’s What’s Inside That Counts: The Triumph of Intrinsic Motivation

"People are born with intrinsic motivation, self-esteem, dignity, curiosity, joy in learning… monetary awards are not a substitute for intrinsic motivation." – W. Edwards Deming, American author, statistician, and engineer. To the shock of many managers and executives of the older generations, throwing extra money and privileges at underperforming workers no longer causes them to perk up and start producing like they should. Oh, it helps on occasion or temporarily, especially for younger workers and during economic downturns. But increasingly, motivations imposed from the outside simply fail. To many leaders, this seems bizarre, but they're viewing the picture only from their own perspectives; they assume what would work for them works for everyone. But it doesn't always work, especially w … [Read more...]

Sincere Teamwork: Identifying and Avoiding False Cooperation

Sincere Teamwork

"Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don't." —Bill Nye the Science Guy, American scientist and educator. Every major accomplishment in history—from figuring out how to make a rock into a spear point to the construction of the International Space Station—has resulted from people working together, often in great numbers over a long period of time. Even the "lone wolf geniuses" we idolize usually have a talented team around them or a devoted support group, if not both. While I would argue that traditional teams have begun decentralizing due to technological and cultural evolution, this doesn't mean teamwork will be any less valuable in the future. If anything, it will become more important than ever. Dealing with Poseurs In the biological world, there are symbionts, … [Read more...]

Improved Communication: 3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Team’s Productivity

Improving Communication

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said. — Peter F. Drucker, Austrian-American father of management theory. One of the things separating us from the animals is our ability to communicate easily and clearly. If fact, communication has helped us greatly widen that gap in the millennia since the first meaningful words left a human throat. We've even adapted to speech biologically, with a special bone (the hyoid) that exists mostly just to support the tongue. If a clear communication method had never come about, we might never have invented writing, and our culture would have stalled in the Neolithic—if not earlier. Every day, communication methods continue to improve, in ways both cultural and technological. (Tweet this!) In this blog, I'll suggest thre … [Read more...]

My Daughter, the Millennial

My Daughter, the Millennial

Productivity Perspectives from a Gen X on a New Generation at Work I recently attended a meeting of the Colorado New Talent Management Network (www.contmn.com), which I co-founded several years ago. Our host and facilitator of this meeting, Steve Franklin, Director of Learning and Development at CoBank, led attendees through a discussion of millennials at work. The audience tossed out some of their perceptions about millennials: they are job hoppers, want to move up quickly, have an entitlement mentality, and want flexible schedules. Let me tell you about my daughter, who is 20 and a junior at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. She’s already had several jobs. It’s been fascinating for me—a Gen Xer (1969)—to observe the work habits of a Millennial (1995). I was always interested i … [Read more...]

Are You Seeing Your Offerings Through Your Customer’s Eyes?

Are You Seeing Your Offerings Through Your Customer’s Eyes? by Laura Stack #productivity

Three weeks ago, I was working with 25 sales leaders of a large financial services corporation. We were discussing workflow and how to create an effective task management system. Seeing that they were all furiously taking notes, I told them they could instead download a free eBook I’d put together with screenshots and step-by-step instructions on how to use Microsoft Outlook Tasks correctly (text the word PRODUCTIVITY to 41411). They excitedly pulled out their phones and followed the instructions. So far so good. About two minutes later, a man furrows his brows in confusion, looks over at his neighbor’s cell phone, and starts whispering to her. At the break, I wander over to see what the problem is. He shows me his cell phone. He successfully opted in and confirmed the autoresponder. Che … [Read more...]

Impromptu Meetings: Cutting Down on Drop-Ins and Got-a-Minutes

Impromptu Meetings: Cutting Down on Drop-Ins and Got-a-Minutes by Laura Stack #productivity

"I wonder if you've got a minute." "I have many minutes, all of them used toward a common purpose." – Jodi Picoult, American novelist; quoted in Plain Truth. Here is the roundup of activity from Laura Stack’s blog, columns, podcast, and other featured articles. Scroll down to read the complete roundup of productivity resources to help you create Maximum Results in Minimum Time. This week on the Blog Impromptu Meetings: Cutting Down on Drop-Ins and Got-a-Minutes There's a statistic going around the business world that claims that something interrupts or distracts the average office worker every three minutes. Many people find their time nibbled away by otherwise well-meaning co-workers, who drop in unannounced at our cubicles or stop us in the hall to ask, "Got a min … [Read more...]