Blaise Pascal, the 17th century French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, inventor, and theologian once opined; “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
This is a powerful statement coming from a man who lived in the 1600’s! This was before any sort of modern technology that we take for granted today. Now we are at a time where it is becoming more and more difficult to disconnect from the constant barrage of emails, text messages, Facebook messages, LinkedIn updates, Instagram feeds, cell phone calls, etc., etc.! Our world is accelerating forward at a pace like never before.
As business leaders in today’s world, it is critical for us to lead by example. This means establishing boundaries so that we can be as productive as possible. When we lead by example, the people around us will take notice and begin to structure their work practices in a similar productive fashion.
What Do Productivity Boundaries Look Like?
Those who know me, know that I always look for ways to optimize everything! I want to find the most effective and efficient way to get things done while saving time and making money. From automating tasks and eliminating unnecessary activities to outsourcing work that I don’t need to be doing.
This was kicked up to a whole new level when Timothy Ferriss published The 4 Hour Workweek in 2007. I found his way of thinking outside the box to be quite inspiring. The timing of his book was also impeccable as it coincided with the massive economic downturn and recession, creating urgency for businesses to become more cost effective.
My First VA Experience
In 2008, I took over as the business leader of a large engineering company in Calgary. We were in the depth of the “great recession” and the business had been losing a lot of money. In fact, they had just laid off over a third of their staff – the first lay-offs in their 35 year history!
According to a University of North Carolina cross-industry study cited by HBR in their Stop the Meeting Madness article, 71% of senior leaders said that meetings are unproductive and inefficient.
In addition to this, they said that meetings:
- Keep them from completing their required work (65%)
- Come at the expense of deep thinking (64%)
- Miss opportunities to bring the team closer together (62%)
My Poll Results
There is probably nothing so maligned in the modern world as the business meeting. There are countless blogposts, articles, vlogs, and books written about how much time and money are wasted in business gatherings. Similarly, there is the same amount of effort detailing how to conduct effective meetings . . . yet the business world continues to make the same mistakes!
Meetings still lead the business world as one of the largest wastes of corporate time and stakeholder money!
However, effective meetings do serve a crucial function in any organization. Without effective face to face time for leaders, the corporation would wither and die. It is in meetings that innovative ideas are born, visions are cast, fortunes are made, and empires are created.
A great example of an idea that was created out of a series of productive meetings is the modern day GPS.
Every business leader must have a rock solid organizational system in place so that they can lead a differentiated business. Failure to differentiate yourself results in a race for the bottom!
In a last week’s post I wrote about how a differentiated leader must have instant access to all of their past and current business notes, data, ideas, and plans. I mentioned that all of this information must be organized and indexed electronically in a manner that allows easy access from anywhere, at anytime, using any platform. Finally, I stated that this is not a product but a system that contains two distinct elements:
- a cloud based software tool (see last week’s post for more details)
- a systematic approach to organization for an effective business leader
This week we will focus on a systematic approach to organization that will help you become an effective and focused business leader!