A modest proposal: eliminate email

The concept is simple. Employees no longer have personalized email addresses. Instead, each individual posts a schedule of two or three stretches of time during the day when he or she will be available for communication. During these office hours, the individual guarantees to be reachable in person, by phone, and by instant messenger technologies like Slack. Outside of someone’s stated office hours, however, you cannot command their attention. If you need them, you have to keep track of what you need until they’re next available.

On the flipside, when you’re between your own scheduled office hours, you have no inboxes to check or messages demanding response. You’re left, in other words, to simply work. And of course, when you’re home in the evening or on vacation, the fact that there’s no inbox slowly filling up with urgent obligations allows a degree of rest and recharge that’s all but lost from the lives of most knowledge workers today.

This is from an HBR article by Cal Newport. You can and should follow his blog.

I want to hear what you think… particularly the ways in which you can make this (or some version of it) work. Drop me a note using the “Contact me” button on the ruler.

Start with the light

Doc Searls on his blog.

So where does [architect] Bill Patrick start, working unassisted by computer?

“I start with the light,” he says. “I say ‘where do we want the light?'”

We wanted our light coming from the direction of our hilltop view toward San Francisco Bay. We also wanted to enjoy that light outdoors as well as inside the house. The result is a lot of glass on every floor facing the Bay, and a deck or balcony outside every room on the Bay side the house. The roof is nearly flat, to maximize interior space within the local limits on roof height above grade, and the whole thing is not only beautiful, but unlike anything else, anywhere. It expresses Bill’s art, and it reflects our original intentions.

In other words, it’s a creation, not a replication or a variation. I also can’t imagine seeing this house as a template for anything else.

The same principle applies for any communicative act – letter, email, text, talk, presentation, etc. Start with the light; with what the purpose of the act is. And work backwards from there.

More here.

Want to Be a Leader? Keep a Journal.

 

Research has documented that outstanding leaders take time to reflect. Their success depends on the ability to access their unique perspective and bring it to their decisions and sense-making every day.

Extraordinary leadership is rooted in several capabilities: seeing before others see, understanding before others understand, and acting before others act. A leader’s unique perspective is an important source of creativity and competitive advantage. But the reality is that most of us live such fast-paced, frenzied lives that we fail to leave time to actually listen to ourselves.

Gaining access to your own insight isn’t difficult; you simply need to commit to reflecting on a daily basis. Based on research (my own and others’) and many years of work with global business leaders as a consultant and international management professor, I recommend the simple act of regularly writing in a journal.

 

 

The medium is the massage: on doing the same expecting a different result

James Shelley on his blog:

Put a group of people in a room. Give them a whiteboard, pens, and markers. Ask them to develop an idea.

Put the same group of people in another room. Give them pipe cleaners, Play-Doh, a stage, a guitar, and LEGO. Ask them to develop an idea.

How different will the ideas be that emerge from the two different rooms?

In other words: How do the tools we use determine what we come up with?… or whether we engage at all.

It’s a question worth asking – in addition to location, time and venue.

Perhaps our people fail to come up with new solutions or ideas because we always ask them for those novel ideas in the same meeting, in the same place, in the same manner, and using the same tools.

More here.

p.s. The tile of the post is not a typo 🙂

No need for testing. You CAN interview for emotional intelligence

Last week I was facilitating a People and Business Management workshop with managers from all over the U.S. and a question came up about whether personality instruments might be useful in the hiring process.

As luck would have it, I read an article in the Harvard Business Review that addresses this very issue. Here’s the author’s answer:

Don’t:

  • Use personality tests as a proxy for EI. Most of these tests attempt to measure what they say they do: personality. They do not measure specific competencies of emotional intelligence such as self-awareness, positive outlook, achievement orientation, empathy, or inspirational leadership.

  • Use a self-report test. There are two reasons these don’t work. First, if a person is not self-aware, how can he possibly assess his own emotional intelligence? And if he is self-aware, and knows what he’s missing, is he really going to tell the truth when trying to get a job?

  • Use a 360-degree feedback instrument, even if it is valid and even if it measures EI competencies, like the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI) does. A tool like 360-degree feedback ought to be used for development, not evaluation. When these instruments are used to evaluate, people game them by carefully selecting the respondents, and even prepping them on how to score.

Holding a meeting of people from different cultures

In one of the People and Business Management workshops that I facilitate we ask participants to outline how they would approach their first meeting as the manager of a multicultural team. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the imagination and inclusiveness of the responses.

This article in the Harvard Business Review provides useful guidance. Here’s an excerpt:

Do

  • Study up on the variations that exist among cultures and how those differences play out in the workplace
  • Create protocols and establish norms so that your colleagues understand how meetings will run
  • Incentivize colleagues to step outside their cultural comfort zones by institutionalizing rewards around what you’re trying to motivate people to do

Don’t

  • Be hung up on how people from certain cultures are supposed to act—remember, people are capable of adapting and adjusting their cultural default
  • Force a perfect dynamic in meetings—solicit colleagues’ opinions in other venues and encourage people to provide feedback in different ways
  • Overlook the importance of team bonding—encourage colleagues to get to know each other outside of meetings so that cultural differences won’t seem as glaring

 

Your identity in an object

During last week’s workshop we discussed thinking differently about our work and about ourselves. Here’s an example:

It is an object that has helped him construct, interpret, ponder and crystallize his identity, or at least his idea of it. It came to him in the early 1970s, when he was in medical school at the University of Lisbon. The sculpture, made by a woman he had just begun dating a fellow neuroscience student and a sculptor named Hanna Costa, is a little terra-cotta figure of a man seeming to fight his way forward in a storm. And it all but cried out to Dr. Damasio with a mysterious urgency.

“Somehow I felt that it was me, or belonged to me,” he recalled. -via NYTimes.com.