WARNING: Do not read this article series if you are looking for a little brain candy that will give you a quick boost but ultimately waste your time. It won’t give you what you want.
This article series is for the IT leaders, managers and professionals who seriously want to shake things up, for themselves and their organizations. It’s meant for IT leaders, managers, and professionals who know in their gut that there is always a better way to do things and who are eager to learn and apply it.
So, if you consider yourself a member of this group, stick with me. Because this series is going to show you how to:
Gain an extra work day for yourself without working an extra minute, and
Increase your team’s productivity and work satisfaction by 20 percent, 30 percent or more.
Sound ambitious? Think I’m kidding? Well, I’m dead serious. So, let’s get started.
The hierarchy of organizational time-wasting activities
Organizations are inherently inefficient. It’s just the way of the world.
IT professionals complain about the inefficiencies that impact personal productivity and cut into personal time. Managers become frustrated by the slow progress of their team members. As an external consultant, I often get the “pleasure” of hearing these complaints from both sides of the management divide.
Where it gets interesting is when you ask IT professionals and managers to identify and rank the causes of inefficiency and time wasting. Overall there are three big categories. They are presented below in order of time-wasting rank and degree of impact, from mild to severe.
Personal time wasting: This covers items like spending too much time on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, web surfing, news reading, and so on–all under the guise that it really does relate to your job. Not surprisingly, pointing to this category is a favorite of managers. Although, with the appearance of many CIOs on Twitter, it’s starting to be a problem at the leadership level as well. Degree of organizational impact: mild.
Misguided efforts and energy: This category refers to all those activities that some IT managers feel are very important but, in reality, have little value except in the most limited instances. The big culprits in this category are: Email proliferation (too many cc’s, too many thank you’s, using Email like chat instead of actually speaking with someone); global standards initiatives; vendor briefings to “stay on top of things”; department reorganizations that produce unclear org models and even more esoteric and meaningless titles for the same people; telling stories of the days when you changed vacuum tubes and picked the bugs out of the punch cards. Degree of organizational impact: moderate.
Productivity destroyers: These are the activities that are described not with a roll of the eyes, but with a furrowed brow and a shaking head of disapproval. What makes this category stand out in particular isn’t the fact that it has massive impact on the individual and the organization (which it does) but rather that there is nearly 100 percent agreement between managers and professionals on the biggest culprit. And the winner is: MEETINGS! Yup. Almost everyone (at least in the IT world) believes that the biggest personal and organizational productivity destroyer is the abundance of meetings they have to attend. Degree of organizational impact: severe.
Here we have an essential business activity that nearly everyone in IT feels is a major drain on productivity and progress. For years I ignored this observation. I chalked up complaints about people doing Email during meetings to bad etiquette. Statements about poor planning and agenda management, I figured, were about political rivalry or attributable to the fact that they were unfairly comparing my highly prepared workshops and seminars (which have to sparkle with sexy, multimedia presentations, studies, and data so that I can get paid) to the rest of their “normal” work day.