Doing The Work

How Do We Have The Important Conversations?

It is not entirely clear how long it will be before people are comfortable inhabiting meeting rooms again, even for very short and focussed interactions. Which raises some fundamental questions about how we go about having strategically important conversations. Our current reality changes how we facilitate, how we interact and how groups explore, unpack and resolve complex and messy questions. In trying to figure out alternative strategies, there are some fundamental problems that need to be solved.



Hitting The Reset Button

Given our current reality, many of us would like to hit the reset button. But we need to define just what we are resetting. And where we would like to reset to. Our currently reality is one of stress and uncertainty. It is also one of opportunity. Played right, we have the opportunity to reframe what we do, how we do it and who we do it for. That’s an opportunity we are rarely faced with; the opportunity lies in taking advantage of it.



The Organizational Is The Personal

I have been a consultant working inside organizations for three decades and more. In that time, I have been involved in the creation of numerous methodologies and practices, and the implementation of many organizational change efforts. I have described myself as an organizational consultant of some variety or other. So you might reasonably assume that I consider my clients to be the organizations that I serve. You couldn’t be further from the truth.



Systems Are Good… But Habits Are Essential

I’ve been sharing some of the experiences I’ve had as I transition my approach to time management. I’m liking the system that I have moved to. While it takes a different approach to some of the principles that I use and apply, I understand the choices that have been made and why. And I can see the value of many of them. What has been most relevant in this overall transition, though, is not that I have a shiny new piece of software. The essential change is a result of developing new habits about how I use and rely on the system that I have.



Working Through Personal Change

We all work through change at some point in our lives. More to the point, we frequently experience change, and often several changes at the same time. As universal as the experience is, there is precious little guidance on how to make it through. This is not a rational, linear process. There is a starting point and an ending point, and what happens in between is anything but predictable and easy. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t structures that we can understand, and ways through that we can find. We just need to know where to look.



This Is What Change Feels Like

I wrote last week about the transition that I was undertaking to a new approach to time management. At the time, I presumed it would be a relatively easy change to make. I knew I needed new software. I thought that I already had the practices and concepts down. I believed that I had ample time to get things sorted and organized in time for the new year. I was wrong on all counts.



Our Tools Get In The Way, Too

Not that we need any help on this front. We get in our own way just fine. But then we add tools to the mix, and that complicates things unnecessarily. For those who have a fetish for office supplies and time management solutions (you know who you are) it can be awfully tempting to look at shiny new software with covetous desire. My usual advice is, “If what you are doing now is working for you, then keep doing it.” Which is great, until you realize that it isn’t working. This is what happened to me.



We Often Get In Our Own Way

How we think about work is challenging. And how we do that work is more challenging still. When the work we are doing is creative and uncertain—where we are the author and motivating force of what gets produced—success is often judged externally. We don’t have an effective, objective way of evaluating the quality of what we’ve done. Ultimately, we rely on the subjective assessment of those for whom we have done the work. That’s a hard thing to do, and many of us have developed work strategies that make it even harder.



Defining What “Done” Looks Like

Knowing why we are doing something is inarguably important. Being able to define what one successfully looks like is fundamental and critical. This is particularly true when we are the ones that are guiding development of the deliverable, and there is a creative component to what needs to be produced. While we would like to say that we know what successful completion looks like, there are many factors that can create roadblocks for us. Most of which exist in our own perceptions.



Working On You

Entrepreneurs have a saying: you need to be working on your business, not just in your business. That often gets viewed as spending time on things like planning, marketing or establishing systems. But it goes beyond that. And while not all of us may be entrepreneurs or business owners, all of us need to take the time to work on ourselves.