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Monday, February 4, 2013

Focus Frameworks

Last Friday I attended a fascinating presentation, Why Do People Do Stupid Things? by Thomas Hoffman of PScience Associates. There was a lot of meat in his presentation, and the most valuable idea I took away is that there are a half dozen exercises I can do before taking action that will improve my results (reducing common stupidity).

That doesn’t mean I will always succeed, but I believe I can improve my results on a case-by-case basis. Valuable morning.

Here’s the kicker. Doing all six exercises on a formal basis should take all of ten minutes. Oy!

I spend a lot of time in meetings. My butt is not shy about communicating when I’ve spent too much time sitting instead of moving forward.

So if there is a ten minute rocket docket to better performance, why do committees continue to keep the minutes and waste the hours?

One time I was installed to run a startup after an investor coup. I met the new VP Administration, who was also recruited by the investors. She was very accomplished, but curious how we were going to make headway with a mulish workforce. I bought her a copy of Robert’s Rules Of Order, and said we would run every meeting for the benefit of the minutes, since we were being closely watched by the investors, and had to report several times a week anyway.

Documentation quickly trumped chaos, and shortly thereafter our direct reports became barracks parliamentarians. It wasn’t a perfect system, but it was better than what they were wallowing in before we arrived.

Often I see that managers want a system to improve their decisions and without a formal framework, spend their time going round in circles like Little Johnny With One Foot Nailed to The Floor. Especially in the current economic climate, they end up fully engaged in paralysis by analysis.

Better to adopt one system, any system, and start moving, because as soon as the system is mastered, it starts being modified, sometimes for better, often for worse.

The point is that you can’t lose if you never leave the planning/consideration stage. Of course, you can’t win, either. In the end, it’s the number of wins, not the number of losses that count. Indeed, it is most often a series of quick losses right up to the ultimate (and important) win.

Join us at the Capital Technology Management Hub on February 12 at 6:30 for 300 seconds of Rainmaker 18 – Leadership, Technology, and Change before Michael Clark presents Social Media: Evolving in the Work Place at TeqCorner.

1 comment:

Jack Gates said...

Dick:

We have all been in meetings where burning up time was the only accomplishment. Putting a structure to the session can only improve the outcome.

Dr. Hoffman offered observations about why people act as they do and noted that being part of a group has a normative effect on their actions.

Your points taken together with Dr. Hoffman's lead to structure, engagement, and affinity creating a greater level of results.

Actionable outcomes from discussions and votes - with who is responsible for what by when - is well known as an effective approach to committee and board improvement...so why is it ignored in practice so often?

Doing the work outside of the meeting and reporting the result in the meeting, in my experience, increases the consistent attendance and forward movement. The doer is invested in the group and the group can function at the higher level, working with the findings and coming to a decision about appropriate actions (and the who, what, when details driven by the structure). Outcome is results, not just 'time served.'

The good news from the earlier presentation is 'Stupid is as Stupid does' is NOT an immutable law of nature.