Open Offices are Evil

I’m afraid I have to agree with the Washington Post. Not because I have anything against them, nor Google, but having worked in both open, semi-private, and private offices I have to agree: open floor plan offices are counter-productive. What you gain in reduced operations costs and floor space efficiency, you lose in individual productivity.

This is not new. It goes back to a book I read in university, a very long time ago now: The Mythical Man Month. One of the insights I took away was the demonstrable pattern of the best programmers at the best companies are 100x more productive than the worst programmer at the worst companies. The difference between companies: can you close your door and silence your phone?

That simple. A 10-second interruption costs you 20 minutes (give or take) of think time. In cognitively challenging work (programming, engineering, creative endeavours, writing, and other brain jobs) every interruption means starting over again.

So if you ever wonder why you can spend the entire day at work, and come home feeling tired and wondering what you actually got done, maybe you should work from somewhere else once in a while. I used to book a small meeting room on the other side of the building so nobody would want to come find me unless they absolutely had to. Not to hide, but to get work done. Try it some time. Let me know how it works for you.

Antelope or Mouse?

antelope-not-mice

From: https://www.reddit.com/r/GetMotivated/

Time Management: the Next Big Time Waster?

“Personal productivity presents itself as an antidote to busyness when it might better be understood as yet another form of busyness. And as such, it serves the same psychological role that busyness has always served: to keep us sufficiently distracted that we don’t have to ask ourselves potentially terrifying questions about how we are spending our days.”

— Oliver Burkeman, “Why Time Management is Ruining Our Lives“, The Guardian

(Thanks Tim for the link)

Technology, Millennials, and Empathy

Things you need to know if you manage “the Millennials” (second half of the 30′ video). Also some good strategy about long-term thinking (first half).

They’re Working Hard, You Just Don’t See It

The topic of the “Millennials” comes up with my clients once in a while. Usually the client is relating to me how hard they are to manage, that they’re entitled, and they aren’t willing to put in the work for the rewards they’re expecting.

I think it’s a mistake to group people, and if anything the young men and women I know are smart and hard-working. In fact, I think that one day they’re going to eat our lunch. They know how to collaborate and share and support each other in ways we haven’t yet imagined.

The challenge, then, is how do we step up as leaders and harness this power? But please don’t tell me they don’t know how to work hard.

u4pd5sr

10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation (and be a Better Listener)

“There is no reason to learn how to show you’re paying attention if you are in fact paying attention.“

 

John’s 2016 Business Trends

John’s a cool cat with his ears open. His biggest business trends from 2016 is right. I will say I don’t think anything on this list is new except the technology sea change that’s going on around us. Leadership, talent, sales, communication challenges have always and will always be with us. But if you think the last 20 years of having an internet and email around has made your head spin then you might want to sit down. That was just the warm-up and it’s happening now.

http://blog.johnspence.com/2016/12/big-trends-2016/

Four Habits of Referability

[this is  a fall re-post series re-post]

Getting a reference from clients and customers builds your business. You need to find a way to get them to know you, like you, trust you, try your product or service, buy from you again, and then you can ask for a reference. And if you don’t ask you won’t get. But first, you’ll need to:

  1. Show up on time
  2. Do what you said you would
  3. Finish what you start
  4. Say please and thank-you
  5. Give a little more than they expect*

*Thanks John Spence for summarizing Dan Sullivan at the Results Canada CEO Forum

Your Ego Is Holding You Back

[this is  a fall re-post series re-post]

Truths About Leadership Nobody Wants to Hear Part 1

I do a little volunteer mentoring. Last year I helped a student group that had gotten stuck. They were working on a design for a community space, bringing together senior students from architecture, engineering, marketing, and business schools. Teams were formed for the weekend, with a juried presentation Sunday afternoon.

I met with them Saturday evening. Most of the other teams had already settled on a design, gotten community comments, done their costing, and were working on their presentations for the next day. A few had even knocked off early to get a good night’s sleep before the next day’s presentation.

The group I worked with were still deciding which design to go with. The were tired, frustrated, and dispirited. After asking questions about their process up to that point, it was clear that there were three “strong personalities”. People who were pushing to get things done, and another four that just wanted to move forward but didn’t know how.

Super Chickens

It was a classic example of “super chickens”. Instead of working together as a team, they were unintentionally pecking at each other in earnest effort to push the group forward. As frustrating as it was for them, it wasn’t really surprising. They hadn’t learned to work in a team. They had, up to now, been rewarded for winning instead of for being helpful. Even if they had played on, say, a sports team, there is still an amazing emphasis on individual stars and personal achievement. Heros aren’t teams. Heros are people.

Leadership is about inspiring a bunch of people to do great things. Sometimes it’s about inspiring a team to do mundane, dirty, or dangerous work in a great way. It’s about taking turns. Contributing without bullying, Collaborating without wanting or needing the credit. It’s providing a service, not stroking your ego.

Yet consistently we seem to train men and women at all levels who believe that to be successful they have to compete and win at everything. And it’s not true. A different and better definition of success, I believe, is the success of the team. Not just the success of the people on the team.

The Hard Work

The hard work of changing our own behaviour, and therefore being able to influence other’s behaviour more effectively, is possible BUT it means making a long-term, consistent, commitment to learning and practising leadership. It means putting in the time and effort. It means adopting a “window and mirror” maturity. When things go well, it means pointing out the window to others and giving them the credit. When things don’t go well, it means looking in the mirror. It means being confident and humble at the same time.  

Truths About Leadership Nobody Wants to Hear Part 2 – Your Authority Is Meaningless

With a nod to James Clear, “6 Truths About Exercise Nobody Wants to Believe” for the inspiration

Have you ever worked with somebody you felt absolutely had your best interest at heart, even if it meant sacrificing their own?

Don’t Be A Super Chicken

[this is  a fall re-post series re-post]

This TED Talk resonated for me when I first saw it, because one of my early client success pivoted on recognizing that the best people for a particular client were the “helpful” ones. Margaret Heffernan puts her thumb on a sore spot  and pushes when she argues that individual achievement is actually counter-productive to achievement.

Margaret Heffernan: Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work

Forget the Pecking Order