Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Art of Achieving More by Doing Less

There is an ancient philosophy called Wei Wu Wei and this is generally defined as "achieving without forcing" or "effortless action".

I now want to apply it to some practical elements of work life and so we can now learn how to apply Wu Wei to "achieving more by doing less". Who would not want to learn about this? Apart from doing our Workshop called "The Productive Executive" this article will be the next best option.

So let us begin at the beginning. We can start at either end -either from the Doing Less perspective or the Achieving More perspective but let us decide to begin with Doing Less.

We all want to do less right? So how do we fill up our workday at the moment? I have had the great fortune to speak with hundreds of people over the last few years and hear a litany of very common issues with all of them. "Too many meetings, too many emails, too much demand on my time, never getting a chance to do my own work, taking work home, coming to the office at weekends, etc and etc"

Humans have a great capacity to not only grow work but also to lose perspective of their roles and the important outcomes upon which they will be judged. What happens of course to many of us is that we feel a decreasing sense of fulfillment in the workplace and mostly this is caused by all these obstacles to achieving our goals.

Most people live in a Re-active World and so we need to examine ourselves and our roles and our key job functions to determine ways in which we can become more Pro-active.

This is now a simple introductory check list to "Doing Less"

Review your workplace objectives
Review your KPIs
Prioritise the elements of those KPIs
Calculate the number of hours you need to devote to achieving those objectives each week
Be very diligent and determined to follow those designated hours and achieving those objectives
Allocate those times into your Calendar at the start of each week
Discipline yourself to follow your plan
Eliminate all emails that do not relate to your specific goals or KPIs
Reduce the number of times each day that you look at your inbox
Minimise the number of meetings you have each week and limit the time of the meetings-any meeting that goes longer than 30 minutes will become unproductive and time wasting
Essentially you are creating a Time/Work Schedule and now you need to be strong minded and develop self discipline
Remove everything from your workplace area that does not assist you in achieving the above
Then your mind will be free to focus on the "things that matter"

If you have success in this aspect then you will experience fulfillment-you will have banished the unproductive time wasting parts of your job.

When we are overwhelmed and we become busy we are creating a very unproductive energy around us. Our mind is stressed and even the simplest things will take longer. In many ways we become stifled within ourselves. The simplest things take longer to achieve. We procrastinate and we can often lose our way. We become tired and then overtired and in consequence we become unfulfilled.

But conversely when we are in command of our work and in command of our mind and our direction and our energy then it is different. We can then see that we are in fact Achieving More by Doing Less. We have stopped doing the things that block us from our fulfillment. Essentially we are being Pro-active and no longer Re-active. We are moving from being mastered by our work to mastering our work and from this we can then apply the same principals to our life and in time become the master of our life and of our circumstances and not being mastered by those circumstances.

Many years ago I had the pleasure to watch some great International Professional golfers and I was intrigues to see how they played this difficult game in a vastly different way to the amateurs. The amateur player puts all they have into hitting the golf ball. They attack it with full force and energy-a furious launch at the golf gall with their body driving every aspect of their speed and determination. When I observed the Professionals it was different-they were very slow in the golf swing-they were minimalist in effort and action. It seemed for them that the World and time had slowed down. Consequently they drove the ball longer and straighter. They were achieving more with less.

When we can apply this way to our work and then to our life we too can see how we can achieve more with less.

When we do this then we have arrived -- we are in "Wei Wu Wei".

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Cult of the Corporate

Now I have seen it all!!

It begins with this rather strange word and concept "corporate". I remember clearly the first time I heard this word being used. It had a kind of "toiletry" feel about it to me but I acknowledged the fact that this was the word that some people used to describe a Company. It probably began with Corporate Law and the decision that businesses could be incorporated into a legal entity and this would then give that entity the right to sue or be sued. It had the same legal status as a person and would be considered for legal reasons as a person. Therefore it became a separate legal entity.

And so it evolved. Today we can use the expressions such as "corporate culture" or "corporate World" or "corporate life". It has a whole new meaning since it has become a whole new entity-even if it is still an alien entity. Let us look at what this word really means and the impact on us as the "real" entities-you remember us-"the human kind" entities. We are the ones today that apparently have the increasing levels of stress, anxiety and depression in the workplace where 60% of employees really do not like their jobs and their places of work. Let us look at how it evolved.

Many years ago we began with another concept in the Workplace called "Human Relations" and thus from this idea we developed the idea of a Human Relations Department with a Human Relations Manager. Apparently this word "relations" did not go down too well and so it evolved into "Resources"- and so we have "Human Resources" Department and Managers and Directors etc etc. Interesting mix of words?? Human Resources -should this be resources for humans to help them at work or is it actually the fact that humans began to be seen as a Resource of the Organisation or in fact of the Corporation. So in fact we ended up then with Human resources to serve the needs of a "Corporation".

In a further indictment of our ever increasing demands to divorce ourselves from humanistic qualities driven by some unknown force from above this concept continued its evolution into "Human Capital". Indeed, like a real Balance Sheet of a Corporation humans had finally arrived in their rightful place-on the Balance Sheet?

And-why not? After all we are only another asset of the Corporation?

The concept of Human Capital was of course widely used in Nazi Germany-this was their way of dehumanizing millions of people who did not fit with their idealized vision.

So as one thing leads to another we can see the way of the Modern World and now why real humans seem to find themselves dehumanized and divorced from the Employer-because the Employer is theoretically without a face-it is the Corporation.

When we look at the Corporation we can find one of the biggest cop-outs in the modern century. How many times have you heard the expression-"we have to talk-we have to restructure and you will be made redundant-understand that it is not personal - it is simply a decision made by the Company".  Decisions made by the Company!!

There is no Company and there is no Corporation. If you do not believe this then just stay home from your workplaces and see what happens. When the entire workforce stays away from the Workplace then nothing happens. There is no one there. No one at home. The place is empty.

Nothing happens unless Humans make it happen.

Of course we lose interest in the Employer-actually we lose the Employer- We have allowed people in organisations to make decisions that negligently effect us in our work efforts. We have replaced human virtues now with the Corporate Values-see them up on the Wall -in our Board Rooms and in our Annual Reports. The Values of the Corporation and the Corporate Vision. Problem is that most employees do not see these values or visions exemplified within their leaders and why should they-people are becoming dehumanized and the outcome of this is a disengagement from the places that we spend most of our lives in -at work. At work we should be engaged, employed and involved with other humans. But we are not. In the interests of clinical efficiency we can use emails from one desk to the next rather than actually speak to another human. People these days receive emails or a message on the phone telling them that their services are no longer needed. True faceless inhumanity has finally arrived and employees at all levels all over the World are crashing.

We have lost our humanity and the Academy Award goes to the Corporation and the vision and the values which can never create a Corporate Culture-only people who belong can create a culture. Forget these disgusting words like "Human Capital"-it is an obscenity. People are forgetting how to relate to each other. Could it be the word "relationships".- even Human Relationships are becoming obsolete as we move further and further away from each other. There in lies the disengagement-the disengagement from each other-the lack of mutual trust-the lack of clearly articulated virtues within the workplaces, mutual care and respect and consideration.

This is what the term "corporatisation" really stands for -the failure to bring humans together. This can only be done by humans having a healthy relationship with each other. Happy people create happy places which create happy productivity and innovation and then profits for all concerned. This is because people interact -they get down and they get personal.