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Sunday, October 25, 2015

It All Takes Time

      “I didn’t have time.”
     Not true. I did have time. I just spent it on something else.
     During every 24-hour cycle, I have 1,440 minutes at my disposal. That is 86,400 seconds, and I am doing something during every second of every minute of every hour. There’s plenty of time. What am I doing with it?
     Each action I take during the 24 hours has a relationship to what I would like in my life. That suggests a scale of importance for my activities.
     When I spend some thought on understanding and specifying those activities, I can establish priorities for them – high priorities for the important ones, lower priorities down the scale for the others.
     The secret to personal productivity is in how I establish and manage the priorities. When I do it right, I plan my days to give the high priorities more time and attention; lower priorities should take a back seat. And then, ideally, I stick to the plan.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Writing Is a Powerful Tool. Treat It as One.

            There were these six guys, submarine diesel mechanics in the U.S. Navy. Their early careers had not involved writing, and that was fine with them, because they weren’t very good at it. One of them misspelled the same word six different ways in the same document. 
      Now they needed to write. Fighting vessels were periodically refitted at their naval shipyard, and the mechanics had to write reports on their examination of the engines. I was a writing coach working with them.
       The reports had to be clear, accurate and complete. People’s lives depended on those engines.
       The Navy mechanics’ problem differed only in degree from that of many fully functioning, intelligent, articulate adults, including project managers and team members. Many people don’t like to write. Many simply avoid writing. Why?
       There are various reasons. Sometimes it is the narrow inflexibility of writing as compared to personal conversation. Sometimes it is the one-way nature of the form, making true exchange clumsy and inadequate.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Mean It? Then Write It.

     I once had a boss – a general manager – who said, “I never put anything in writing.”
     It was a point of pride for him; he spoke in a tone that suggested we owed high respect to his executive wisdom.
     It also was an index comment to his management philosophy. He was implying that real leaders get things done only through in-person communication. If you were to succeed in that workplace, the way to go would be your direct, personal contact with the boss. 
     As a subordinate of his, I found it disturbing.
     In the abstract, there is something to be said for his point of view. The written word can be rigidly limiting, particularly when it is used to communicate directives and executive opinion. Writing is a one-way medium, both in assertion and in response.  It can easily be misunderstood.
     In the world of nuts-and-bolts management, there are other reasons why my old boss would avoid putting anything in writing.