Just want to share some reflections with you. Last week, I was in Raleigh, North Carolina doing some work with clients. I had the opportunity to attend an economic conference which was really interesting.
One of the speakers was talking about some trends – first was the accelerated speed of change that is happening. He asked the audience, “Does anybody think that over the next 10 years, the pace of change was going to be slower than the last 10 years?”
There were no hands put up which was not surprising. Acceleration is something that we’ve got to deal with.
The other trend was the growing connectivity, where we’re connected all of the time in so many different ways. Here are some fascinating statistics shared – there are 4 billion people on the internet. 2.5 billion people are connected with smartphones and on a daily basis, 140 million hours of Netflix being watched!
Maybe I’m interrupting one of your Netflix watching right now, and if I am, my apologies. But that is a staggering amount of connectivity. That’s a challenge that we need to deal with. It also gives a lie somewhat to the old “I don’t have the time to…….”!!
The third trend was complexity. There’s greater complexity in organizations, industries, regulation etc. The truth is, we simply have to contend with it.
I then subsequently, and completely separately, had the opportunity to listen to a talk given by a man I admire an awful lot, Peter Diamandis. He is the co-founder and chair of Singularity University. Peter is also involved in some incredibly lofty and global initiatives.
In the Q&A, somebody asked him a very simple question, “Because of the nature of the work that you do, the complexity and range of those issues that you’re dealing with, Peter, how do you stay organized and effective?”
I thought Peter’s answer was fantastic because his approach is something that I would share with him and have advocated for quite a long time. He said very simply that he decides “what are the three tasks every single day that I’m going to focus on and complete?” These tasks are those things that will either drive key projects or the business forward, or both.
So, the key to effectiveness is to have three priorities for each day that make a significant impact on the major challenges, projects, and business initiatives.
It’s something that I’ve been talking about for a long time. I always refer back to what I remember hearing Warren Buffett say – that in any business, no matter how small or how great it is, – there should be no more than five or six key things on your dashboard.
If you actually manage those five or six key metrics, then, you’ve got a pretty good chance of having a successful business! Thy key, of course, is to ensure that you have chosen the right five or six key metrics!
I really believe that that kind of mindset both, Warren Buffett and Peter Diamandis are talking about is simplifying the complex. We all live in this complex world and this fast-changing, highly connected world. How do we condense it down and figure out what are the things that we should be spending our time doing so that we become really effective? That’s the decision we all have to make.
I was having a conversation with a coaching client yesterday morning. She was bemoaning the fact that she was spending so much time preparing a PowerPoint presentation. It was for a discussion she was going to have the following day with her management colleagues.
She was really getting bogged down in technicalities of the PowerPoint – what the slides looked like, the graphics, etc.
I asked her a very simple question, “How important is it for you to have slides when you’re sharing the information? Is it critical?” When I pushed her on that, she replied back, “Well no, but I just think it would look nice.”
However, I challenged her, “When you think about it, you are spending, in your own words, a couple of hours on PowerPoint element of the presentation. Is that time you have spent going to really move the needle in terms of your business, your career and your objectives this year?”
Obviously, the answer is No.
Then the question is, ‘Why are you spending your time doing it?” Of course, we all fall into that trap of getting busy – the challenge is to recognize it and then do something about it!!
The message that I want to give today is one that I’ve been banging a drum about for a long time, “What are the three things that I should be focused on today, in order to ensure that I am going to achieve my longer-term objectives?”
It’s something that we all need to be disciplined about. Because we make up a lot of excuses – we’re terribly busy, we don’t have time for this stuff, etc. But actually, we do. We just choose to spend our time in different ways. Think about the 140 million hours of Netflix being consumed today? How many am I contributing to that number? How many are you?
So, why do I connect these separate stories here? Well in a fast moving, highly connected and ever-complex world, it is easy to get sidetracked and be busy rather than being effective.
And this is one of the reasons why in the program that we’ve developed for new managers, The First Hundred Days for New Managers, we spend quite a lot time in each module – to really get people to focus on “What are the key things that must be done, among the many that will devour my time?”
Try to remove this kind of busyness and if that people get tied up in that, make sure that they’re being effective because:
“Effectiveness is doing the right things. Efficiency can be doing things right”
For anyone of you who are embarking as a new manager or got new managers, the link is here. I’d love you to actually go in there to have a look at the program. Because being effective is a habit and mindset as much as anything else. And we spent a lot of time talking about that.
My message to you today is to really challenge your thinking in terms of:
- How are you spending your time?
- When you look at how you’ve mapped out tomorrow, are your top 3 priorities listed?
- Are they scheduled?
- Are they the things that are going to drive your business forward, this month, this year?
Challenge yourself and if you’ve got a team, challenge your people about the same point. As I said here, it is simple. I’m not saying that it is easy, but it is simple. In a very complex world, we need to bring simplicity in order to ensure that we are doing the right things.
Talk to you soon.