Open Door Policy?

March 18, 2008

door-bartels-designer-sliding-door.jpgThe idea of an open door policy has become something like a religious belief. It has gone from a good suggestion to a badge of honor, and is now an established management dogma.

The fact is that the most productive managers DO NOT have an open door policy, and this with good reason. When taken to its extreme, managers think that they should be available to interruptions as long as there is no-one in their office. The impact of this unconscious decision is that a manager never creates a space in which they can be deeply productive, unless they come in early, stay late or come in on weekends.

I say to managers that they need to schedule their times to have an Open Door, and allow themselves to be interrupted only when there are emergencies. This takes careful scheduling, plus an effort to notify others about the exact nature of this “modified” open door policy.

The result, however, is more quality time for both the employee and the manager. The manager is able to give 100% of his attention to the times when he has to do uninterrupted deep thinking, and the times when he has the employee in front of him in need of his attention, without his mind straying to other activities. The employee gains by being able to gain the full attention of the manager.

A modified open door policy is a win-win for everyone.


A Mention in the Toldeo Free Press

March 14, 2008

toledo-free-press.jpgThis blog was mentioned in the Toledo Free Press. It makes note of the fact that I live in Jamaica… which I found interesting.

I happen to have visited Toledo once, for a project. It sticks out in my mind as just about as far away from Jamaica as I have ever been, with respect to the weather I found there in mid-November!

Blackberry Insanity

March 12, 2008

blackberry31.jpgNew devices make it easier than ever for professionals to get stuck in unproductive activities that damage their peace of mind.

One of the more destructive habits that they enable is the ability to check email at all times during the day and night. In the thinking of the 2Time Management system, it enables a user to Capture all the time.

While this is very convenient, it’s a little like having a cell phone nearby all the time. Most of us have learnt that a ringing cell does not need to be answered just because it is ringing. This is a sure-fire way to at the least a drop in productivity, and at the very most, a certain insanity.

In other words, having the ability to download email at any moment only means that one must be more disciplined in capturing, not less, in order to preserve one’s productivity. Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s meet 6 months from now

March 7, 2008

By my calculations, September 10, 2008 will be just about 6 months to the day, from today.

Here is a sure-fire way to decide if someone else is skilled at managing their time – set a phone call for September 10th, at 12:30pm.

Someone with a weak time management system close to that of a novice won’t be able to make the appointment. In fact, they might not even know what to do with it.

Some will get tricky, and say, “Remind me of it closer to the day.” When we rightly refuse to play the part of their reminder system, what will they do next? Others will demur saying, “I don’t plan that far out.”

The Green Belt merely schedules the engagement into their calendar, and makes the appointment.

More Space = Better Code

March 5, 2008

I had the good fortune to attend a training course conducted by Tom deMarco and Tim Lister. (I may be swapping an “i” for an “o” in their names, and my apologies go to them if I am.)

Tom and Tim were experts in software productivity back in the early 1990s, and their research revealed a stunning finding: software productivity was most strongly correlated with the space of one’s office.

Not experience. Not programming language. Not age. Not education.

Space. As measured by square feet (or metres). The more space programmers had, the better they performed.

The reason was profoundly simple. Read the rest of this entry »

A Powerful Coaching Tool

March 3, 2008

star-wars-luke-and-yoda-caption-generatorphp.jpg One of the side-benefits that I am realizing from the 2Time system is its value as a coaching tool.

In much the same way that a master coach like Yoda or Rafiki could look at their proteges and very quickly discern what they were doing wrong, a coach who understands the 11 practices of 2Time can help someone else they are coaching quite easily.

All they need to do is to look at the trainee’s practices to see which level they are at, and what needs to happen in their system of habits to move to the next level. They may offer tips, and new tools, but the strength of their coaching would be in seeing which new habit must be learned.

With a knowledge of the different ways to help people to change their habits, they can quickly help co-create a new course of action.

This can help a manager to become tremendously efficient in boosting the productivity of their unit, and help them to focus on the important basics, rather than the trivial fluff that floats by everyday that promises to improve productivity.

Are There Other Fundamentals?

February 29, 2008

A question I have been asking myself is whether or not there are other fundamentals aside from the 11 that I have identified in the 2Time system.

I believe there may be, and I am wide open to any ideas that others might have with a few caveats that the fundamentals share:

  1. They must be observable repeatable actionable practices. They cannot be mental, psychological, spiritual or philosophical.
  2. They must be shared by every professional. So far, the 11 fundamentals are actions that everyone undergoes, albeit unconsciously and without pre-planning. Even the Advanced practices are undertaken by everyone, although they may happen only in emergency situations.

As I said before, I am wide open to new ideas… do let me know!

The Big Questions in Life

February 29, 2008

faster.jpgOne of the aspects of 2Time that I wonder about is whether or not it should deal with the BIG questions of life – Purpose, Values, Vision, Mission etc.

Should I also be in the business of helping people to define their goals in life, and have them become aligned with the loftier themes? After all, my thinking goes, so what if someone is more effective if all they are able to do is to do more nonsense… but just do it faster?

Is it a mistake to disregard these “more important themes?”

In short, I worry that the diagram on the left will come true for 2Time users – making them a bunch of people who are trying to speed things up for no good reason.

Yet, I also often think that people spend more time trying to recover from the mistakes they make in time management, than they do in writing out their top five New year’s Resolutions. In other words, they are more burdened by the time demands in their lives that they think they might have forgotten, than they are by existential questions regarding their true destiny.

Another way of saying this is – the bigger questions don’t matter when you have lost the grocery list for the umpteenth time in the supermarket. In fact, they become very, very insignificant. Read the rest of this entry »

An Interesting Post About Belts

February 27, 2008

black_belt_karate.jpgI ran across the following post called “Ready to Test for Your Belt” that echoes some of my thinking about belts, and moving up from one level of skills to another. It originates from David Allen, the author of the book “Getting Things Done.”

“READY TO TEST FOR YOUR BELT?”Lately some rather sophisticated people have asked me what I initially thought was a rather unsophisticated question: “How do I know what belt I’m at?” In other words, in the martial art of workflow, they wanted to know how well they were doing – how far they were from earning the coveted black belt in the Getting Things Done school of self management. One, a senior engineer, said, “David, you keep referring to ‘black belt’ and several of the attributes it signifies. There must be some way to determine how far along we might be in that continuum.” Though he excused his curiosity in the matter to his system-oriented mindset, I realized he had a good point. When I studied karate, the belt rankings were highly useful as milestones, often motivating me to keep going when I would hit plateaus in my training during which I wasn’t very aware of my progress. As I went from white to green to brown belt rankings over the course of four years, I could sense the next level up as a reachable step, when black belt would seem too elusive a goal.

So for those of you who may share that interest in some kind of marker for determining your rank, I’ll proffer a set of characteristics for the belts.

Read the full article.

I find his comments above to be similar to my own thinking about the fact that a belt system helps people to organize their thinking and find ways to make steady progress on their own.

Manage that Exploding Inbox

February 25, 2008

An article with the above name was published in the Jamaica Sunday Gleaner on February 17th, and can be found at the following link:

It echoes many of my thoughts on the topic.