Culture fit

Do my daily routines and practices need to fit in with the cultural norms of the organisation? If so, to what extent?

This post is not a rant about the organisation that I work for. It’s more about beginning to explore how far counter-cultural behaviour is acceptable.

This thought first occurred to me when I read Al Pittampali’s ‘Read this before our next meeting’. It was stirred again as I was bowled over by Greg McKeown’s ‘Essentialism”. Now it’s the question is resurfacing as I’m about to jump into Cal Newport’s ‘Deep Work’.

I’m not talking about ethical standards, simply the way everyday business is conducted.

  • Do I need to comply with meeting-itis?
  • Relish busy-work?
  • Fit in with presenteeism?
  • Spend every waking hour perusing e-mail?

Given my tendency to non-conformity most of this is hypothetical, but I’d appreciate your thoughts.

No more excuses

After lunch yesterday, I was sitting with a cup of tea. Tucked up inside, away the wild winds of #StormHenry. Then, P2A popped into my TweetDeck feed. Seven smiling seven-year-olds out for their ‘daily mile’ walk. (P2A is a class at one of the primary schools that I work with.) They were windswept and magnificent.

I felt chastised, having excused myself from a lunchtime walk because of the weather. So, I wrapped up and went for a brisk walk, during which I told myself off for making feeble excuses, got my heart pumping and my brain working. I felt totally energised when I got back.

The next time that I sense an excuse creeping in, I’ll remember P2A and banish those negative thoughts.

(Oh, in case you were wondering, I have let P2A know that they inspired me.)

So, who has inspired you recently?

Please, please do not ‘Reply All’

I’m old enough to remember a time when we did not have e-mail. So I can clearly see the benefits that it has brought to communication. It also a burden, mainly because it is cheap.

deleteHow many e-mails do you receive each day that you automatically delete?

The delete button is my best friend. The first step in my workflow is to decide if an e-mail (or incoming piece of paper) can be deleted.

This week I have experienced two of my pet e-mail peeves. Earlier this week a colleague sent me an e-mail about an urgent, time sensitive matter. The problem with this is that I do not sit and wait for the thrill of a new e-mail arrival. I process e-mail in batches – at set points in the day. So for most of the working day I close down my e-mail software. Urgent matters require a walk along the corridor or a phone call. I know it seems like dated technology but talking to someone is a powerful communication tool with built-in feedback.

My other pet peeve is the use of the reply all button. I can’t be the only one who thinks this function should be disabled from all e-mail software.

I know this will shock some people, but I don’t care if you’re available for the meeting unless I’m the one organising it; and I’m not interested in your comments on the paper unless I’m the author or editor.

Please stop it! Think about the recipients. They have plenty of e-mail to deal with already. If 20 people are asked about their availability for an event and they all ‘reply all’, that’s 380 unnecessary e-mails to be dealt with. It’s expensive and frustrating and completely pointless.

Please, please do not ‘reply all’.

So many ideas

As I was flicking through my ideabook yesterday, I was struck by the ratio of ideas captured to ideas developed. Basically it’s

oodles: none

The lack of entries in this blog is clear evidence of the ‘none’ side of the equation.

so many ideas

Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to.

Tiffany Shlain


So where is my attention?

  • Am I allowing processing, function and transactions to squeeze out creativity?
  • Is throughput and productivity impeding reflection and learning?
  • Is busy-ness replacing impact?

The answer to all of these questions is ‘Yes’.

So what am I going to do about it?

Well, the first step is to implement Tiffany Shlain’s advice; to realise where my focus is and to adjust it accordingly. There are times when throughput and productivity matter, but that should not consume all of my time.

I need to tweak the balance between gathering/generating ideas and developing them. I’d like to aspire to the impact of Seth Godin and the depth of Maria Popova.

But the easiest measure of all is to monitor the frequency of entries here. This will serve as a barometer of my attention.