Active Meeting Assignments

If people do not have active assignments, if they only attend meetings to hear reports and ask questions, truly professional work cannot be accomplished. 

Management: The Essence of the Craft. Pp 217. Fredmund Malik, Campus Verlog (c) 2010

Malik was speaking specifically of an institution’s supervisory board. But it strikes me as equally useful in other standing meetings. 

Malik on Charisma

Historically, charismatic leaders have almost always produced catastrophes — in every field. 

Charisma … is neither necessary nor desirable for true leadership or right management. 

Uncluttered Management Thinking: 46 Concepts for Masterful Management. Fredmund Malik. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt / New York. (C) 2011. pp 16-17.

This is going to be a good read. 

Seasoned or Cynical

It’s amazing what people can do when they don’t know they can’t.

In the beginning you don’t know all the reasons it won’t work.

As the years pass you’ll marvel at what you though was possible – the risks you took.

And still you’ll see other beginners taking on windmills. Some windmills will batter the riders. Some riders will topple their windmills.

Reminiscing with a senior developer that I used to manage we talked about a project we worked on together that had major flaws. I told him, “Don’t worry. That’s what has made you senior. Now you really do know better.”

Failure can teach you good judgment. At best it will teach you which fears are realistic – which gambles pay off.

A junior developer often makes up for inexperience with occassionally wreckless enthusiasm. But senior developers often earn their keep by what they choose not to do.

A senior developer (hopefully) knows the difference between ambitious and unrealistic.

They need to be able to look at a project and say, “Yes, we can do that with these critical changes.” And each part of that sentence is important.

“Yes, we can do that” – don’t let your experience lead to cyncism where every project is doomed to fail and any who think they can achieve something are Polyanna.

“… with these critical changes” – filter out all of the good or simply true ideas to bring forward the indispensible ones. Conserve your ammo.

If you aren’t careful failure might instead turn you into a member of the “no way” choir. If you aren’t careful you might believe that only saying why a project might fail is actually adding value. It’s not. Not really.

I’ve watched junior developers deliver so much more than their senior teammates that it was embarrassing. Perhaps those senior developers overcompensated for failure.

I’ve seen junior developers merrily build weeks of work on a platform that was genuinely incapable of supporting success. Perhaps those junior developers needed more help from a senior developer.

Still, it’s amazing what people can do when they don’t know they can’t.

The truth embedded in Wiley Coyote’s gravity defying double take is that often it is our own perception of doom that causes our doom.

Your Number Two Time Management Problem

OK. I hope I don’t lose anyone over this post. I waited for April 1 to publish it as a softener for anyone that might take this hard.

If you’re like some of my peers over the years you may be flushing precious time down the drain. Here’s some tips to help manage your basic priorities.

The Dumbing Down

Sometime late in the 20th Century Disney doubled down on potty humor. To be fair, this seems endemic in childrens’ entertainment.

These days movie makers behave as if it’s just a given that brassy body sounds are hilarious. Children learn to guffaw at these indescrete indiscretions. Some are affected well into their professional years.

Here’s the real damage to your professional life: you take longer than necessary to do your necessary.

The Seated Mutex

We must hit the head issue here: It can be challenging to set aside inhibitions and act boldly. And none shall pooh-pooh those who do. There is no room for childish squeamishness in the little boys room.

Of course, some of you have never fallen for this. Some of you have the maturity and self confidence to attend to your business with abandon. But many of you aren’t comfortable playing a tune in the tiled concert hall.

I have plenty of anecdotal evidence on this. You time your expeditions to a time when you can have all of the resources for yourself. If you find any resource contention you move on and come back.

If you do get started and someone else enters the queue then you immediately put your tasks on hold. How often has someone started after you and finished before you?

All this time spent avoiding being a potty humor punch-line is wasted. You aren’t as productive in the stall as you are at your desk.

Even if you intend to ruminate – mull things over – you would get better results on a stroll than in the throne room.

Time in the restroom not doing business is a complete waste of time. Keep your waste time to a minimum.

Join The Movement

You can take back these precious minutes and do more. How? Use all of the below that apply:

  • Get over it
  • Pretend to get over it
  • Distract Yourself
  • Do More Real Work

1. Get Over It

Read that children’s book that confronts this difficult reality Everyone Poops. If you’re in a hurry, just read the title.

Now that you know you’re just like everyone else, move on.

I’m sure you’ve already aced effective elimination. If you haven’t this is the standard:

All of the potentially embarrassing activities take place in the restroom, including:

  1. No. 1
  2. No. 2
  3. burping
  4. Anything like unto 1 or 2
  5. All personal grooming: combing, clipping, tweezing, and so on

Now that you are effective, it’s time to move on to efficient.

Don’t schedule time for being embarrassed by this. Don’t take time to avoid the embarrasment.

Use the proper forum and skip being timid.

2. Pretend To Be Over It

If you can’t get rid of the feeling of unease then just pretend that you have. Do all the behaviors that you would do if you weren’t embarrassed. After a little while you will be over it.

3. Distract Yourself

If you’re having a hard time pretending to not be embarrassed then try distraction. Listen to music, make flushing sounds, do math problems in your head whilest making progress.

My favorite strategy: Play music during a stalemate.

You might lose your nerve. You may find yourself in place, not alone, and in a prolonged silence. We all have portable electronic noise makers. Many of us have songs for ringtones. Time to make technology work for us.

Take out your phone and play some noisy, upbeat song. Use the air cover to good effect.

Your stool-mate will never call you on it. Most will silently be thankful for the cover.

4. Do More Real Work

If you find you have time to timidly address your biological needs then you might not have enough commitments.

Sign up for more. Do more. Let that urgency help you “put away childish things.”

Conclusion: The Vegas Rule

Someone has to have spent a lot of money to make us believe “what happens in Vegas stays in vegas.” There is an analogous rule for the water closet.

Let not shy semi-private privy practice stymie you. Nest not on your porcelain perch. But be bold, never fearing an involuntary indelicate diatribe.

The overriding Vegas Rule of bathrooms will protect you as you make strides in meeting your most urgent deliverables.