All posts by whiteboardconsulting

Super Organized? Super Messy? You Need To Start Bullet Journaling.

If you’re reading this it’s either because a) you’re super organized already and love Bullet Journals and want to make yours more fabulous, b) you’re super organized and you’ve heard of Bullet Journals and you’re curious and a bit intimidated, or c) you’re not at all organized and would love an easy and fun way to keep track of “all the things.”

Whatever the reason, thanks for stopping by!

Our business is all about productivity and efficiency (oh and fun, don’t forget that!), and anything that can help with that and NOT be restrictive and tedious is worth giving a try.

But let’s start at the beginning.


Just What Is A Bullet Journal And Why Do I Need It?

It’s really just a manual, or paper-based method of organizing your life.

Are you shocked?

We are recommending a paper-based tool in the digital world?

Yes we are.

Because sometimes you need to download everything in your brain to truly be able to unplug, rest, and recharge.

Unlike traditional journals, work planners, or “to-do” lists, the Bullet Journal is an interesting (and creative) way of recording all the tasks from all your different lists and notes in an organized fashion, while also allowing for incredible freedom for other work — all in one central location.

It was developed by Ryder Carroll in his book, “The Bullet Journal Method,” and not only is it incredibly easy, but its flexibility also makes it appealing for people who dislike “frameworks” and “structure.”

Here’s the book that started it all. You can get it HERE

If you’re someone who’s already the King or Queen of Organization and you have a tool that works and you’re not really into using something else, well — you know the old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

On the other hand, if you’d like to supercharge your organizational prowess or current “to do” list, habit tracking, or ideas, then this is a great way to get to the next level. (That challenge should really appeal to Type-A’s out there!)

You can also access our super fun, quick, and helpful FREE (for a limited time) course on Bullet Journaling by clicking RIGHT HERE.


What Do I Need To Know Before I Start?

  1. No, having artistic skills is not a requirement, and you don’t have to be a calligraphy expert. Bullet journaling is for you and for you only. If it works and you can read it, that’s all that matters. That being said, we find journaling a little bit therapeutic and a bit of a digital detox, so the more we journal, the neater we get, and the more we want to add flair to entries. (Adding flair is part of the “fun” of Bullet Journaling, and it also sparks your creative side.)
  2. No, you don’t have to have fancy notebooks and pens. Of course you can buy tools just for Bullet Journals — it’s a whole industry these days — but truly anything will do. We recommend a few products that work best for us, but all that matters is that it works for you.
  3. Yes, you have to use paper. You may be thinking, “isn’t my iPhone basically a bullet journal? Why are we regressing? Are you going to suggest papyrus and fountain pens next?

Well, yes and no.

It seems like there is daily news on the negative effects of the blue light of our screens, the troubles related to repetitive use injuries, and the simple fact of disconnection from the world around us when we rely so much on our screens.

The truth is, we’ve all downloaded a million and one apps on our phones, but here’s the thing; we’re already always on our phones and to be honest, we need to find an excuse NOT to be.

It’s also true that writing things down makes it more memorable and allows you to be focused on organization and not toggling to check Instagram account as well.

(If you are highly irritated by this concept, fear not, there is an app for that. You can still follow the Bullet Journal methodology on your phone; the Bullet Journal Companion is available in the app store for $3.99, however buyer beware. Your rapid logging entries expire after 48 hours so that you are forced to transpose them to your written journal. So, it isn’t a replacement for the written journal but can be a great supplement if you are on the go a lot.)


What Do I Need To Get Going?

A pen and a notebook are truly all you “must have” to start Bullet Journaling, and if you’re just testing the waters, then maybe you want to start there.

If you want to go a level up, then there are a few tools that we absolutely love. Here’s what they are, and where you can find them:

Leuchtturm 1917 Dotted Notebook– this is the gold standard in bullet journals. We highly recommend getting the dotted version as it allows you to use the official bullet journaling methodology with ease. It also forces some neater handwriting if that is important to you, as well as providing some natural boundaries and outlines. Click HERE to get this notebook.

Another favourite is the GO TO NOTEBOOK. It has great weight in the paper, dotted lines, and spaces for an index and projects to manage. It also has a great pocket at the back. Click HERE to get this notebook.

The Sharpie pen is a great pen for bullet journaling because it enhances your journaling in the best way possible. You don’t actually need a TON of colours. The basics work just fine unless you are a real artist. Click HERE for these pens.

The Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens are also a fan favourite due to all their colours and their high quality. If you are feeling super creative and love to have a good selection of colours, these are for you. Click HERE for these pens.

Highlighters are a tool for journaling that add colour and fun if you do your actual journaling in black or blue ink (to keep it professional, you know?). They don’t smudge, are a great way to colour code things, and come in two sizes. Click HERE for these.

You can even go über fancy with your highlighters if you like. These are top notch. Click HERE for these.


You’re Ready To Go!

With the book and a few basic tools you can get started right away and take back control of all the tasks and ideas you have swirling inside your head.

If you’d like to get a little more help on starting your Bullet Journal and making it look and feel like you (at your most organized), then you are in luck!

We are offering a limited time FREE one-hour, online, self-directed (in other words, you watch it on your own schedule — when you’re ready, when you’re in the mood, when you have a few minutes) course on Bullet Journaling.

Totally, completely, 100% free, with no obligations, and no credit card needed.

CLICK HERE to access the course — you can even watch the first lesson without signing up. And you’ll love it, because Nicole is an amazing instructor.

Either way, we hope this post has been helpful and that you can feel just a little more organized as you start your day. Good luck – let us know what you think!!!

Our New Blog Site!

 

Hi there, and thanks for checking out our website!

We wanted to let you know that we have a brand new location for our blog – it’s now over on the Medium platform (Click HERE), and you can find all the latest articles from us (and other writers who we’ve approved) there.

At The Whiteboard continues to be the place to find information that will help you “Crush It At Work.” This page, on our website, contains all our archived blogs back to the very beginning (June 2012!!!). If you’re looking for our latest and greatest work, however, you need to click HERE.

  • Are you a front-line employee trying to figure out how to make improvements in what you do every day, how to be an amazing team member, how to move up in an organization, or how to build amazing relationships at work?
  • Maybe you’re a manager, trying to be amazing at your job. You’d like to improve business processes, learn how to engage your team, inspire them, coach them (ugh, what does THAT even mean?), talk to them even when it’s tough, make changes that stick, or just be “that manager” that people remember (in a good way) forever.
  • Are you a Senior Leader who wishes their team would “think more strategically” but don’t know how to explain that to them? Do you have communication issues, culture issues, and change management issues? If I asked you to explain change management to me in 25 words or less, could you? Are you trying to improve efficiency, save money, or make your customers happier? Why? How do you know there’s a problem?

If so, then our publication is for you. Search this page for our oldies-but-goodies, or click HERE to see the latest and greatest.

Thanks for reading!

Being A Great Boss (Free Webinar!!!!)

I know this photo has nothing to do with webinars, but it portrays excitement! And I’m excited! (Photo by Social Cut on Unsplash)

The Unicorn of All Training Topics

Regular readers will know I teach a lot, and one of the more popular topics I cover is called Management Essentials.

Not a very catchy title, I know, but it’s not my course — I just deliver the materials.

Anyway, participants love this course; not only is it eye-opening for them (you mean manager’s have to do ALL THAT plus help me get my work done?), but it also helps them think about whether they really have it in them to manage other people, or what they need to do next to up their management skills.

We talk about what it is to be a manager or a leader or — the unicorn in business — a Leader-Manager.

We discuss the right and wrong ways to engage people, why coaching is key, what incivility is and why it’s ruining the workplace today, time management and prioritization skills, and perhaps most importantly, how self-awareness is one of the most important characteristics of a Leader-Manager.

During the course I think I’ve been asked 99 times, “What kind of training do people get when they become managers for the first time?”

Bless.

The thing is, it’s a rare (and wonderful) organization that has training for people when they become new managers.

Some organizations have Leadership Development programs, and often those are for a select few people who have been identified as having “high potential.”

So how are people supposed to learn to be good managers and to develop that potential if no one will train them?

Which brings us to this webinar.

This is a free one-hour taste of our Being A Great Boss course.

Yes it’s free, and yes it’s only one-hour, but I promise it is packed with as much content as I can in that amount of time. I will also have free templates and resources for you.

And yes, there will be an opportunity to learn more about the full self-directed, six-week online course which will be offered this fall.

Who Should Attend This Webinar?

  • Brand new managers who wish there was a course on how to be the kind of boss everyone wants to work for.
  • People who think they’d like to become a manager, and who want to sharpen up their skills to increase their chances of landing that dream job.
  • Existing managers who would just like to be better.

Is this you? You can sign up for it by CLICKING HERE— it’s super quick and easy, and you don’t need to download any software or give a credit card.


What You Will Learn

  • How To Get Recognized (And Promoted) In Your Organization. Most organizations want someone who can get the job done. That’s a manager. Most employees want to work for someone who inspires them and makes them feel good about their work. That’s a leader. Learn how to stand out in your organization by being BOTH, and up your chances of a promotion.
  • How to Get People To Want To Do A Great Job Just Because They Want You To Look Good. The #1 tool in your “Manager Toolbox” is understanding your own personal habits and preferences, and recognizing how they impact your ability to inspire and communicate with other people.
  • How To Get Someone To Say What You’d Rather Just Tell Them.Learning to coach was a career-changer for me, and I’ll share how it can be for you too.
  • Tools, Tips, and Cheat Sheets. You’ll get easy-to-use downloadable templates to help you remember and use what you learn.
  • I’ll Also Answer Your Questions Live. This is not a pre-recorded training. Join me live on August 27th and I’ll answer your questions throughout the presentation. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been managing people for years, I’ll show you how to use a few simple tools to turn your manager style into a leader-manager style!

You can sign up for it by CLICKING HERE


Important Details

  • It’s August 27th at 12 noon Eastern Daylight Time.
  • It’s one hour.
  • You will get a ton of excellent content, and some free templates and tools to take away and start using right away.

Can’t Attend But Wish You Could?

That’s ok!

Sign up anyway, and I’ll send you the recorded webinar after it’s over.

Easy peasy.

You can sign up for it by CLICKING HERE


Hope to see you there!

Ruth.

Crush Your Next Interview

interview

The image above shows all the classic things we’ve learned to do before an important meeting or interview.

  1. Dress appropriately. Not only does that mean not “under dressing,” but it also means not “over dressing!” Do your research and then dress one level up.
  2. Arrive in good time. Well, duh.
  3. Body language. Be aware! Assume an open and interested position (arms resting in your lap or on the arms of your chair), don’t check your watch or (heaven forbid) your phone, and above all else, don’t interrupt!
  4. Expect the unexpected. Yup. What if you’re kept waiting 30 minutes? What if you have to do a presentation on the spot? What if it’s super hot in the interview room? Plan to keep your cool in all situations.
  5. Ask questions. For sure. And don’t ask “when will you make your decision,” as if you already have the job. A great one is “what will the most challenging thing be for the successful applicant?”

But those are the standard things. The things you can learn if you google “interview prep” or ask your friend how they got their job.

Secrets to Crushing Any Interview

  1. Use “I” not “we.” Yes, that’s right. Talk about yourself. As someone who has interviewed hundreds of people, I can tell you that when you are asked to “tell me about a time when you led a complicated project with a diverse team,” then I want to know what YOU did specifically. Not what your whole team did. Now is not the time to “share the credit.” For example:
    • Bad answer: I was the project lead for Project X, and we worked together to create SMART goals, communicate effectively, and follow project management principles.
    • Good answer: I was the project lead for Project X, and early on I established the team guidelines. I facilitated the team agreement on goals, coordinated and moderated regular updates, and developed job shadowing practices so that people could fill in for each other during crunch times.
  2. Use action words. In the example above the words “established,” “facilitated,” “coordinated,” “moderated,” and “developed” are all action words. Example: “Tell me about the work you did in your most favourite job?”
    • Bad answer: I loved my job two years ago because I was responsible for team engagement and new employee onboarding and it was very rewarding.
    • Good answer: I loved my job two years ago because I championed team engagement by leading quarterly brainstorming sessions, developing and implementing engagement programs like Job Shadowing for new employees, and facilitating bi-annual engagement feedback sessions with the VP. It was really rewarding to see engagement scores increase and to get positive feedback from the team.
  3. Tell stories. Many interviewers will start a question with “describe a time when you…” Others will start with, “have you ever…” And still others will say things like, “what’s your greatest or worst skill?” Each of these is a chance to tell a story. It will be tempting to answer quickly, but what you want to do is answer in a way they will visualize and remember. Example: “OK, you’ve been telling me about all these things that you do so well, but we all have weaknesses or opportunities to improve. What’s one of yours?
    • Bad answer: I actually don’t have any weaknesses because I have been honing my skills for years. (I’m not kidding. That’s a real answer I got once.)
    • Alternate bad answer: A weakness? Oh. Well, I guess I can get flustered some times when timelines shift quickly, but I am really good at re-configuring my plans so everything comes out ok.
    • Good answer: On a recent project the timelines shifted a few times, as they often do on large projects. By the third time shift I realized that I should be using a different milestone chart that is more adaptable when there are changes. By implementing that, I was able to reduce the frustration I can feel if things shift too frequently.

crushed it

These three tips will help you stand out (in a good way) and increase your likelihood of winning the competition. Have you used any of these before? Let us know on Twitter (@whiteboardcons) using #InterviewPrep!

Until next time,

Ruth.

PS – did you know we offer coaching for interview prep? It’s true. Click here and read all about it.

Process Improvement via The Whiteboard Way© – Step Five

We’re finally at the last of the five steps of The Whiteboard Way© – Talk About It.

idea

“That’s a step?” you ask, “just talking about something?”

Why yes, yes it is.

There is a trick of course – it’s not just talking about what you’ve been doing. It’s communicating the right information, to the right people, using the communication method that they prefer. Or, it’s about effective communication.

Let’s Recap Steps One Through Four

In the last four posts we’ve taken you through all the basic steps for properly defining a problem, imagining

all the potential solutions, and proving that the solution you choose is the right one.

Step One: Define It! In which you describe the problem without assuming a solution.

Step Two: Draw It! In which you visually express the problem in its current state.

Step Three: Imagine It! In which you brainstorm potential solutions and draw how they might look.

Step Four: Prove It! In which you build the case for the solution you want to implement.

Now it’s time to discuss the biggest roadblock to effective process improvement i

nitiatives – effective communication, or the lack thereof.

What Are You Talking About?

You’ve got the best idea in the world. You know it’s going to be big – your boss is going to love it, your colleagues are going to love it – heck, you may even get a raise. You’ve been doing all the steps of The Whiteboard Way©, working away at your desk on your lunch hours and even a couple of evenings at home. You’re super excited, and you finally are ready to let everyone know.

One morning as you and your colleagues are settling in for the day, you tell them all about your plans. A couple smile and say “good for you” and then sit down at their computers and open their eMail. One chuckles and says, “good luck with that”. And another says, “but that will change my work!”

You’re completely deflated. Don’t they see that this is a good thing?

Later that morning you have your weekly one-on-one with your boss and you tell her all about your amazing idea. You pull out your process maps and explain what you’ve been working on.

“How much is this going to cost?” she asks. And before you can answer, “what does the rest of the team think of this plan?”

“Uh, well, I haven’t had time to talk to them about it,” you reply, “and as for cost, I haven’t looked at that. But look how much we’ll save!”

“I’m sorry, but I need to know the cost. You know our budget is tight. And it looks like this process impacts the others – you need to make sure they’re on board.”

And that’s the end of that. What went wrong????

So Many Things.

How to Win the Communication Challenge

There are four key elements to the “Talk About It!” stage of The Whiteboard Way©:

  1. Think about Change Management. You may have read our post about the Change Curve a little while ago. In it, we talked about how people go through a series of emotions (Disbelief, Anger, Exploring and Acceptance) when confronted with a change in their lives. Some go through all those thoughts in a few seconds – they are very resilient people and love change! Others take longer, and you need to consider this when planning on implementing a process improvement change. idea
  2. What’s Your Communication Plan? Who is your audience? Consider people who will be impacted by your idea, or who will be needed to implement or support it.  Now consider the method by which each of those people need to hear your message. Where are they on the change curve? Do they prefer face-to-face meetings or a quick eMail? Not what do you prefer… How do they prefer to communicate. How often? What message do you need to share
    , and what’s the right venue for it?
  3. Be Engaging. No, that doesn’t mean be all charming (although it can’t hurt). It means, engage people early in the process. Ask for their input, suggestions, and ideas. Bring them along your story, and make sure you have all your story elements (including ROI for your boss) figured out!
  4. Remember Your Project Management Essentials. A good project charter ensures everyone understands the scope of what you’re doing, the budget required, the people who will be impacted and who have already been engaged, and of course your key milestones and deliverables. This is one of the most helpful tools you can have, even for a small project! (Project charters don’t have to be pages and pages long.)

Let us know if you’ve had experience (good or bad!) with communication and process improvement projects, and whether any of the tools above resonate with you. Please use the comment space below or tweet us @whiteboardcons! And don’t forget to send us any general process improvement questions or suggestions for future blogs.

Until next time,

Ruth.

Process Improvement via The Whiteboard Way© – Step One

This week we’re starting a series on The Whiteboard Way©, our very own process improvement methodology.

First, a Little Background

When we started Whiteboard Consulting Group, one of the things we wanted to do was develop a way to do process improvement that would be easy for people and organizations who had never tried it, never heard of it, or thought that it had to be big, cumbersome, and expensive.

Our method is simple, has only 5 steps, doesn’t rely on expensive software, and can help you begin your process-improvement journey. Think of  The Whiteboard Way© as the act of “tilling the soil” – getting it ready for the culture shift towards continuous improvement that will surely follow.

Step One: Define It!

Perhaps the most difficult part of getting a process improvement project off the ground is actually defining the problem. Why is this so important? Because if we really take the time to think about it, removing all assumptions and pre-conceived ideas about the solutions, we can ensure two things: 1) an unbiased approach to problem solving, and 2) an open approach to all possible solutions. In other words, we can guarantee the best solution.

albert-einstein-quote

“But Ruth!” you exclaim, “that’s the easiest thing to do, isn’t it? If we didn’t know what the problem was, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, right?”

Not necessarily.

It is absolutely true that you have an idea of the problem. We like to describe it as a “pain point”, or something that keeps you up at night or frustrates you and makes you listen to angry music on the way home (I recommend Nine Inch Nails or Metallica for those days). You sit at the dinner table with friends or family and say things like, “I can’t believe we had to fix this issue for another customer,” or, “every month it’s the same thing – we scramble to get this done at the last minute,” or “it shouldn’t cost this much to do this work”.

The hard part is defining what’s wrong without assuming why it’s wrong.

Here are some examples:

“Bad” Problem Definitions

We have to fix this issue all the time for our customers because we just don’t have time to train our people.

We never have enough time to do this process because other priorities keep getting in the way.

It costs too much to do this piece of work because I can’t hire the right people.

“Good” Problem Definitions

In the last 3 months we have had to fix this issue 6 times for four customers, causing dissatisfaction for our customers and wasted processing time for our staff.

Each month we are 5-7 days late completing this process, impacting other departments and generating late fees for the company.

This piece of work costs the organization $5,000 per month. Best practices in similar companies is half that amount.

Here’s how we do it in The Whiteboard Way©

  1. State the pain point.
  2. Add data – how much, how often, what’s the impact
  3. Add no solutions

It just takes practice. And we can help you with that. Comment below with your “pain points”!

Next week: step two. Draw It!

Until then,

Ruth.

We Go Through the Change Curve Too!

You would think that we here at Whiteboard Consulting Group, being pretty good (if we do say so ourselves) at Change Management and Transformation, would never have any trouble with change or transformation ourselves.

Not so, actually.

We recently ate a bit of crow and admitted we were a little stubborn when we refused to accept that our logo could use some sprucing up.

First, a Little History

Our website and logo were created early in 2012 by a young up-and-coming designer, and we were (and are still) thrilled with what he did for us. He designed everything from scratch, based only on our rough sketch and (sometimes flip-flopping) requests. The artwork, colours, fonts – everything was very “us” and we loved it!

As our clientele grew and our focus changed, it became clear we needed to spruce up the look and functionality of the website, and this summer we finally bit the bullet to get it done.

A Change is Gonna Do You Good

Enter Kobayashi Online and their creative team. They did an amazing job modernizing our website and adding functionality we didn’t have before. And they also updated our logo.

Here’s the old logo:

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 2.26.31 PM

 

 

 

 

Here’s the new one:

whiteboard-logo

 

 

 

You can see the new one is a little more whimsical (which is what we strive for – see Nicole’s blog here on that topic), and looks more like handwriting on a whiteboard. We absolutely love it.

At First We Hated the Idea

Our conversations with Kobayashi’s Art Director, Martin Finesilver, went something like this:

M: You should really let me take a stab at modernizing your logo.

Us: No thanks. We like our logo.

M: I could help make it fit the new site better, make it crisper…

Us: No thanks. It won’t work and we don’t need it.

M: But I…

Us: Look, if you want to try, go ahead. But we won’t like it. We like the one we have.

M: Sigh. Ok.

Fast forward a couple of months, and Kobayashi is sending us concepts. We opened the files with some dread, thinking, what have they done to our logo?

First reaction? “It’s weird.”

Second reaction? “It’s kind of interesting.”

Third reaction? (After really taking the time to look at the site and understand the new design) “It’s pretty awesome.”

The Change Curve

The point of this story is to stress that everyone goes through a series of reactions when going through a major change (or even some minor ones). The Change Curve shows us that a phase of Denial (“It won’t work”) is quickly followed by Anger (“What have they done to our logo”), and then the voice of reason kicks in and Exploration takes over (It’s kind of interesting.”) Finally, Acceptance (“It’s pretty awesome.”)

change curve

People who are generally open to change and fairly resilient can go through these phases fairly quickly, zipping right from Disbelief to Acceptance. Others may take a lot longer, and even get stuck in Disbelief or Anger.

The key is to recognize how you (or someone on your team) is handling a change, and to coach accordingly.

Disbelief –>provide information

Anger –> listen more than you talk

Exploration –> encourage and provide more information and opportunities

Acceptance –> reward and recognize

Nicole and I went through these phases relatively quickly because we are fairly resilient (and because we have absolute faith in Brent Kobayashi and his team). We also did a little bit of peer-to-peer coaching when we discussed the new logo, and that always makes things easier.

In the end, it was a great experience, and looking back it was a healthy reminder that we too, go through the change curve. Just like you.

Do you have a change curve experience? Give us a shout via Twitter@whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper or email us at info@whiteboardconsulting.ca/staging.

Until next week,

Ruth.

Tweets by @WhiteboardCons

Segue (or Segway) from Bad Busy to Good Busy

Welcome to our first blog on the new website!

How do you like it?  A couple of weeks ago I told you it would be a “website mullet” – whimsy in the front and corporate in the back.  If you love our website, then Click to Tweet! Many thanks to the awesome team at Kobayashi Online for their hard work and creative design – they really do make online friendly!

segue

We’re just on our way back from Chicago where we delivered a presentation on “Instilling a Process Improvement Culture Through Coaching” at the Quality Expo.

We had a blast presenting and met a great bunch of quality geeks just like us!  Everyone talked about how busy they were, and how they wanted to implement coaching as part of their quality initiatives, but it was hard because they are TOO BUSY. It made me think of a Visa advertisement that I heard last week that talked about “Good Busy” versus “Bad Busy”.  They have great examples and their pitch is “When you’re in control of your cash flow you can focus on the work you love; you know, good busy. That means making more money, being more strategic, and doing better things for your clients or customers (check it out here).  I loved it. This concept has come across the proverbial desk here at Whiteboard Worldwide Headquarters in a number of ways.

Good Busy vs. Bad Busy: What’s the difference?

The first time this concept “clicked” for me was in Tim Ferriss’ The 4 Hour Workweek.  He highlights how so many of us spend all day reading and responding to emails, instead of working on the big strategic objectives that give us value in an organization.  Why? Because responding to emails is easy, and instantly satisfying. Doing the big work is hard. If you want to change, however, you can’t keep doing what you’ve always done!

That segues to one of our clients, who said one of my favourite phrases of all time (and which we have since mentioned often in our blog): “I’m addicted to firefighting”.  I thought this was brilliant.  He was addicted to the drama, addicted to high speed reactionary problem solving. Organizations love to create and resolve these “problems” every day. It feels good to solve a problem. It provides instant satisfaction. It has instant results and outcomes. It’s so much more fun than discovering and building a relationship with a new (or old) team member, giving constructive feedback, or having a difficult (yet important) conversation on performance of a team member. Those things are hard and unpleasant, but are so necessary to achieve something like operational excellence.

So which is which?

 Good Busy

Value added activities (anything that adds value to your customer)

  • Interacting and meeting with clients
  • Production of your product or delivery of your service
  • Work for client paying activities (ie. Deliverables for a client)
  • Selling your product to your customer

Bad Busy

Non-value added activities (i.e. internal administration)

  • Internal email administration
  • Payroll
  • Doing quality control on your product
  • Time spent on advertising
  • Time spent on shipping of raw materials to produce your produce

DISCLAIMER:  Sometimes using value added vs. non-value added makes people say – well “Payroll IS value added?  How would I run my business”. Don’t get tied up in the semantics. Rule of thumb for identifying non-value added steps: any activity that doesn’t improve the form, fit or function of the product. Think of things like inspection, testing, re-work, set-up, movement of product (if it’s not direct to the client), etc

Tips to get “Good Busy”

We’re going to sound like a broken record, we’re sure you’ve heard them before – but practice makes perfect:

  1. Make a list. Number your activities based on priorities 1,2, and 3 (#1s Must get done today, #2s should get done, #3s can be rolled over to a subsequent day).  Start on your #1s (I guarantee they aren’t your favourites, you’ll be dying to do a#3)
  2. Tame the email beast. Turn off your email notifier AND set specific times a day to check and respond to email (doing email can be a reward for checking off a #1 from your list above).
  3. Improve your processes.  Are there bottlenecks? Do you have multiple approvals that don’t add value? Are there internal forms and paperwork that could be streamlined? What are you or your team doing that is making things BUSY without adding value?

The key is to  focus your day on what makes your company or organization money and what adds value to your clients.  You and “Bob from Accounting” having a CYA machine gun email tete-a-tete does neither of the above (no matter how fun it may be to prove that you did in fact email him on October 2nd asking  that expense claim question).  To paraphrase that tagline from Visa, remember: “When you’re in control of your processes you can focus on the work you love, you know, good busy.” Click to Tweet

Have ideas about Good Busy and Bad Busy?  I’m sure Visa @VisaBiz_CA wants to hear them since it’s their ad campaign – so use the hashtag #goodbusy. And if you heard it first from us, tweet us too @whiteboardcons #betterfastercheaper.

Have a happy and productive week!

Nicole

Perfuncta What?

Operational Definitions: Not a Perfunctory Exercise

We have a colleague whose favourite words these days is “perfunctory”, and he uses it frequently enough that I looked up the definition just to be sure I knew what it meant.

per-func-to-ry adjective \pər-ˈfəŋ(k)-t(ə-)rē\

  1. characterized by routine or superficiality
  2. lacking in interest or enthusiasm

That little exercise reminded me of how important it is to have common definitions at work. Never mind the embarassment of using a word incorrectly, which we’ve all done on occasion. (Well I have, anyway…) It’s about speaking the same language in the office, and avoiding any potential for misinterpretation and mistake.

My Definition is This (Bonus earworm for those who know that tune, for those who don’t, click here )

One of the things we are working on right now is a review of a PMO (Project Management Office) function in a large public sector organization. As part of any review, we conduct a number of interviews with various employees at all levels of the organization. And, as always, we find that people are working with differing levels of understanding of key operational terms, and that this is creating some confusion with respect to roles, responsibilities, and key outcomes.

Here’s a good example: what does performance management mean to you? Is it related to the work output and behaviours of an individual employee, and the ability of a manager to influence it positively?

No? Oh, well perhaps you feel it’s the use of key performance indicators to ensure that an organization meets its goals and targets in a timely manner.

Wait, what? You think it’s both?

If you look it up, even Wikipedia gives several definitions:

Performance management (PM) includes activities which ensure that goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner. Performance management can focus on the performance of an organization, a department, employee, or even the processes to build a product of service, as well as many other areas.
PM is also known as a process by which organizations align their resources, systems and employees to strategic objectives and priorities.
Performance management as referenced on this page in a broad term coined by Dr. Aubrey Daniels in the late 1970s to describe a technology (i.e. science imbedded in applications methods) for managing both behavior and results, two critical elements of what is known as performance.

If you’re working on a culture shift in your organization, then a great exercise involves getting groups of people together in a room and having work in small groups to define key terms. For instance, for a PMO conversation, you might have people define: Project, Charter, Project Manager, Process Owner, Project Sponsor, Communication Plan, Risk Mitigation Plan, etc. Here’s the trick: there’s usually no right answer. Just pick the one that works for most people, and stick with it! If everyone is speaking the same language, you’ll save so much confusion and time.

And there’s nothing perfunctory about that.

Give us a shout via Twitter @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper or email us at info@whiteboardconsulting.ca/staging.

Tweets by @WhiteboardCons

Until next week,
Ruth.