5 Ways to Bring Productivity Out of Chaos: Mourn Change, But Move On

5 Ways to Bring Productivity Out of Chaos

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new." – Dan Millman, American writer and philosopher. By now, you've no doubt realized a basic fact of life: the only constant in the business world is change, especially as we hurtle full-throttle into the New Millennium. Ironically, most of us prefer things to remain the same. Change forces us to learn and do new things, stealing our time and making us expend energy—two resources often in short supply. As a result, many of us mourn change, because it often wrecks our comfortable lives and carefully laid plans. But you can't stay stuck in the past, and you can't sit beside the graves of your old processes while the world passes you by (click to tweet). Do it too long and you disengage fr … [Read more...]

Spotting Job Productivity Killers

Spotting Job Productivity Killers

TRANSCRIPT Whenever you feel really frustrated by something that you're spending your time on, it is just dragging down your productivity and it is a very inefficient type of process, you've got to say to yourself "Ain't nobody got time for that." I was working for example with Sherwin Williams. They have given me permission to share this story. In Atlanta, the VP had hired me to come in. He was the district manager and had area managers. They manufacture, and distribute and sell paint as many of you probably know. And, he was explaining about their leadership asking for a weekly report that he had to send each week, what they called their WAR weekly activity report. Kind of catchy, right? And, he had to get the input from his five area managers in order to create the report with the … [Read more...]

6 Ways to Succeed Despite Unpleasant Coworkers

Overcoming Human Obstacles

"Before someone can treat you like a doormat, you have to lie down first."— Dear Abby, American advice columnist. One thing we often forget about teamwork is that you don't have to like everyone on your team to work effectively with them. It helps, but in any group, you'll probably find someone who rubs you at least slightly the wrong way. One of humanity's greatest strengths, however, is ability to put aside our differences to further a greater cause—whether that means building a wall 13,000 miles long or building a world-class corporation. You'll almost always have coworkers you simply don't like (click to tweet). This doesn't mean they can't do their jobs well; we've all known curmudgeons who were geniuses, or smug apple-polishers who did award-winning work. Indeed, high talent a … [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 … [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...]