For a few years my firm has championed the idea that strategic planning efforts must take place over a long horizon. By “long” I mean 20 to 30 years out.
It’s not an issue of individual time management, at first blush, as you can see from the article I wrote in the Jamaica Daily Gleaner: Taking the Very Long View in Strategic Planning. (For more details about the approach and its application, see my colleague Amie Devero’s book – Powered by Principle.)
What I didn’t mention in the article, however, is that many strategic plans fail because of what I call “the last mile.” In order for a plan to work, a number of things must happen in the daily working world of the employees that must implement it.
The first is that they must be able to “find the time.” A strategy will get nowhere if those who must change their behavior in order to make it work are at the limit of their performance, and need an upgrade in their time management skills. If they don’t know how to perform this kind of upgrade, the strategy is dead.
The second is that they must learn how to change their habits, practices and rituals in order to take the repetitive actions needed to give the strategy some momentum. Most employees are weak in this area, and simply don’t know how to construct habit changing systems. They simply nod their heads in faux agreement, and don’t even bother to try.
The results are the same — the strategy isn’t implemented, even if it’s brilliant. The simple solution is to teach employees how to accomplish more, and to build this kind of activity into the roll-out of the plan.
If you have so many sources of interruptions, including phone calls, email messages, tweets and SMS’ that you don’t know what to manage and when, then you need a Batphone.
There’s a cool article on the TimeBack Management website on the reasons why we need a way to be contacted in a time of true crisis. Most of us have trained ourselves to not answer every call, or process every email message upon arrival — to do otherwise is to turn oneself into a slave to incoming calls/messages — but we still need a way to be reached that cuts through whatever we are doing in the moment so that we can pick up the “Batphone.”
The article makes a larger point, which is that companies desperately need policies around communication an responsiveness that fit in with the smartphone age.
Here’s the article: “What’s your BatPhone?”
It’s been a while since I’ve posted due to one significant interruption — civil unrest here in Jamaica.
I won’t rehash the reasons why it’s happening, as the news reports have been doing a fairly good job of that. But for those who might be wondering, I am fine and so are my friends and family.
It’s been a difficult time, and in Kingston we are still under a state of emergency, with curfews being imposed in different parts of town, at undeclared times.
(If you are coming to Jamaica on vacation, don’t worry too much, as the hotels are on the other side of the island and have not been affected.)
It all reminds me of why I am interested in time management in the first place — it’s the kind of everyday “up and down” that I had to get used to when I returned to Jamaica that made me realize that the way I was managing my time would have to be upgraded. (You can read my bio linked to the About page to find some more details on what particular story.)
I also realize that my latest point of focus — “Time Management in the Smartphone Era” — is also heavily influenced by being in Jamaica, simply because our cell phone adoption rate is one of the highest in the world. I cannot think of a single person here in Jamaica who doesn’t have a cell phone, including the guy who wipes windshields at the traffic light for small change!
The high adoption rate has meant that I am exposed to companies whose entire executive teams are heavy Blackberry users, and are rapidly picking up the unproductive habits that I have mentioned on this site, and will expand on in future posts.
Start with managerial anxiety. Add in some new technology in the form of smartphones. Toss in some employees that don’t know how to say no.
Watch as bad habits develop around email, text messages, voice calls and IM’s.
Or… perhaps… do something about it , as I suggest in this article targeted at Human Resource professionals.
Here is the link to my article: “Is HR Standing By While Corporate Culture Changes?”
It describes a new challenge for human resource departments, who have never quite been held accountable for worker productivity. Now, the time is right to speak up against the bad habits that are helping to create corporate cultures of un-productivity.