This is a situation I've seen at many of the companies I've consulted for: a lot of stuff gets moved around, emailed, minuted, and checked off, but there's very little accomplished.
To understand this, let me tell you a story:
Pretend I'm a manager, and I walk into my office full of bright, eager employees and announce we're going to build a bridge. They all set off right away to put in 10-hour days with smiles on their faces, merrily getting ready to make the best bridge they can build.
Can you think of a more productive, ideal workplace? Everyone's happy and working hard.
There's just one problem: no one knows what kind of bridge we're building. One person's working on a little stone arch, and another's designing the next Golden Gate. We all have different ideas of how wide and long and high to make it, using what materials, and even whether to make an arch or suspension bridge or something else.
There's a crucial question that hasn't been answered: what are we trying to accomplish?
I've found that a lot of problems are solved by asking this simple question. Having a shared, clearly-defined idea of where to head (not to mention how to get there) prevents a lot of wasted time and effort, and also creates a shared sense of purpose and camaraderie.
This is for you personally as well. If you don't have a clear idea of what you're aiming for, you'll have a hard time trying to hit it.
So, do you and your team know what you're doing?
P.S. eProductivity was designed to nurture this kind of thinking. For example, when you create a new Project, eProductivity asks you, "What's the successful outcome? Describe as if already done; what would that look like?" This is meant to encourage you to think in terms of what will be true once you've done this thing. This approach helps keep you focused; plus, it automatically gets your brain thinking about how to achieve that outcome.
I enjoy my friendship with Bruce Elgort. No doubt he's had an impact on my personally and professionally for many years. Now, as he moves to a new chapter as a college professor, I enjoy following his adventures in the classroom. As so many in the Yellowverse (Oops, it's blue now It will always be yellow for me) have said, Bruce was instrumental in many initiatives - not only with OpenNTF but with IdeaJam and others. I want to thank you publicly, Bruce, for your many years of dedicated and fruitful service to the Lotus/IBM community. I wish you many more fruitful years in your new endeavors. I'm glad you're not dead and gone yet. ;-)
If Jon's remarks about Lotus Notes are based on the UI, then compared to some stunning web sites and applications I have seen, I could see where he might reach that conclusion. Notes isn't the most beautiful UI, but it's getting better and I don't use Notes for the UI anyway. I use Lotus Notes to create value - value for myself, my team, and my company.
While I'm always envious of the latest eye candy that I see from Apple, I'm more interested in what the application will DO for me on an ongoing basis. I love shiny things and cool user interfaces and shiny baubles but not as much as I like tools that work really well. For me, Notes is about being productive and getting things done.
While I thoroughly enjoy the latest UI features of Notes 8.5.1 that the Lotus Notes UX team has provided, truth be told I could easily go back several versions of Lotus Notes and still be almost as productive. (In fact, when I demo eProductivity to enterprise clients I will often do just that - I will downgrade my Notes from 8.5x to 6.5x and show that I can still be productive and stay on top of my game.) The Lotus Notes UX team has done an awesome job at enhancing the visual and usability elements of the Notes user experience, but it's the ability of Notes to facilitate how we communicate and collaborate that really shines for me.
Still, we have this differing viewpoint from Jon, which makes me wonder how Jon's experience differs from mine. Is he using a really ancient version e.g. Notes 4, 5, or 6? Did he get any training in how to maximize his use of Notes? Perhaps he has access to some really cool technology that makes Notes pale in comparison? As an IBMer, I would expect that he has access to some of the finest technology and people that can help him. If not, I'd be willing to do my part and help. I'd really like to help him convince himself that Lotus Notes doesn't really suck.
Productivity expert, David Allen had this to say in an comment thread on Ed Brill's blog:
Ed, as Eric wrote in his blog post and as I have said for years, most folks simply don't understand the power of what Notes can do for them. I'm constantly amazed when I'm in companies that use Notes that the average person has no idea of the power of what they have, which is probably why they complain or whine and pine for something bigger and better. I think there's a large segment of the market that doesn't even know Notes still exists (or is thriving).
I won't speculate further on the reasons for Jon's comment today. It's clear that he's not happy about having to use Notes at work. I wish I could change that - I love giving people a new outlook on Notes.
In any case, Jon has a blog and he appears to focuses on design so perhaps he will write a post to share his Notes experience with us so we can all learn more. I hope so.
IBM Lotus Notes Sucks People into Two Camps
Does the world really hate Lotus Notes?
I Hate(d) Lotus Notes
Ed Brill: Eric Mack has made a Notes convert through GTD and ...
Listen to how I help people convince themselves that Notes doesn’t suck
Lotus Notes Sucks? Not so much (A happy ending)
"I’m a Mac and a PC and I love Lotus Notes"
Hat tip to IBM Business Partner Mayflower Software for being creative in communicating their passion for excellent customer support.
The Lotus ISV community is a small one but has a large reputation. It's great to see folks doing stuff like this.
Charlie bit me, with 67 MILLION views, is an example of a classic viral video
Numa Numa with 23 MILLION views is another example
When users start making their own versions of videos that's viral!
On the commercial side, I believe this Honda Choir video went viral.
I can think of many other examples. These were top of mind.
To me, when a company (or the ad company they hired) has to announce that they have just created a viral video, it isn't. Viral videos are, unexpected, engaging, and memorable; and they become popular because viewers say they are - not the producers or the companies that hire them.
That said, I did not think the Lotus Foundations video was that bad. I laughed. I would have laughed more if it was not promoted by IBM as being viral. By telling me the video was viral before I watched it, they set themselves up for more critical review.
Here's an example of something my wife received unexpectedly and one that she immediately forwarded to others (viral behavior?). I think it will probably become quite popular. As a potentially viral marketing video, I think it's effective in that it got me thinking about the company's product even though the video was about my wife.
In my opinion, whether the above goes viral or not will depend on what the viewers think, not the creators or vendor.
What do YOU think?
If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know that Michael and I enjoyed many passionate discussions and blog posts over this topic. Which was better? When I considered the idea of switching to a Mac, I came to the conclusion that while the Mac is a fantastic machine for some activities, however, it did not support the most important business applications and activities that my clients and I needed. In short, the Mac was not ready for the kind of business applications that my clients and I needed to run. I chose to stick with the PC but I also learned a lot from Michael as he migrated his world from PC to Mac while trying to remain as productive.
I know from our conversations that there definitely were aspects to the Mac that allowed Michael to be more productive than his experience with the PC. At the same time, he ran into many new challenges with his all-Mac implementation. These challenges were costing him productivity and capability. So, it comes as no surprise to me that Michael made this announcement today:
...after 5 years on the Mac platform, today I switched back to Windows, and demoted my MacBook Pro to a lab machine. And I switched back for a very simple reason: Windows is better for business.
I'm not sure I would agree fully with Michael's statement as-is; I would add, "given the present hardware and software offerings and the integration between them, Windows is currently better for business." Of course, this may change over time - and I expect that it will, someday - but as long as Apple holds a tight reign over the OS, Hardware, and apps (and there's much to be said for that) I expect to see more business driven innovation on the PC platform and Windows OS.
As I posted in my comment to Michael, I've enjoyed learning from him as he explored the use of the Mac for business. Some of you may wonder why I'm not rubbing this in more. Michael knows I was right, so there's no point gloating or blogging about it. Actually, I'm quite sad today. This topic has generated many blog posts (1 2) and passionate discussionm, not to mention more laughter for us than any other computer related subject. Now, with us both using PCs and Windows as our primary work platform, I wonder what we'll have left to talk about. We both like the ThinkPad products line, so no disagreement there. Then, there's always XP vs Vista. (I use, prefer, and recommend XP. I refuse to use Vista on my primary machine, although I do like it as a Tablet OS).
I'll throw the first salvo in the battle for productivity. I contend that in my experience using both XP and Vista, I have found XP to be far more productive for me. Michael just purchased a new Thinkpad with Vista. Once again, I look forward to learning from Michael's choice. ;-)
You can read the rest of Michael's announcement and his thoughts, here.
Last year, I realized that when it comes to the internet (among other things) I was choosing to be fat. I was consuming more Internet calories than I needed and it wasn't even the good stuff. Worse yet, like junk food, the Internet -- the very tool that had enabled my high-tech lifestyle -- was distracting me from getting things done. So, at the beginning of 2008, I decided to reduce my daily internet intake in order to improve my productivity.
What I expected to be a one-month experiment turned into a 3-month adventure and I learned a lot along the way...
Continue Reading "I went on an Internet diet and GAINED 30 minutes a day!" »
Memo: Important Notice concerning new open door policy
To: All employees:
It has come to our attention that someone in the company recently slammed their finger in one of the doors at the office. This is unacceptable.
Therefore, effectively immediately, we have requested that everyone remove the door to their office; we will also have the doors removed from the front entrance and all rest-room/public areas.
We desire to prevent this unfortunate event from ever happening again.
Thank you for your cooperation.
PS. There's a rumor that someone got their finger caught in a file drawer; we cannot have this happening. If you have information about this, please come forward. If verified, we will immediately remove all file drawers from the premises, too.
What if that were a true announcement? How would you respond?
Obviously, I paraphrased a true story to illustrate my point, however, I've only slightly changed the facts of a real situation that I see all too often in my eProductivity consulting practice.
Now, consider that the issue was not about doors, but about doorways to information. What if management decided to greatly limit how employees accessed the information they needed to get their job done, simply in reaction to a problem?
What if management looked at the problem differently, with the objective of finding a way to solve it in a context that allows people to get the information that they need, when they need it, and where they need it, while at the same time, addressing security and information integrity concerns that management may have? Wouldn't that be more productive?
Ever heard of the "Shoot the messenger" syndrome, where the bearer of bad news gets executed for reporting the news? (Nevermind that it was his job).
In this case, the messenger is the collaborative tool or process and the shooting is done by creating policies counterproductive to knowledge work.
I never cease to be amazed at the new and creative ways that management can find to kill collaboration or squash productivity by overreacting to a problem encountered.
I'm preparing for an upcoming speech and I would like to collect some real-life examples of how bad policy decisions by management have killed collaboration. I invite you to post your stories here. Feel free to do so anonymously, if you wish. I'm just looking for examples.