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The One Question That Will Improve Your Productivity Exponentially…

…and if you can get your company to adopt it as a practice, will eliminate needless distractions and improve the productivity of the entire organization.

Photo by Alec Brock

Photo by Alec Brock

How does this [conversation, activity, report, spreadsheet, meeting, etc.] add value?

I could end this article right here, and you’d all get it.  The challenge is that as companies get larger, this question becomes taboo.  If your boss asks you to take that column out of the spreadsheet and re-sort the group in alphabetical order of requestor rather than line of business, what are you going to do?  Chances are, even if you know there’s no good reason to do it, you’re going to grumble under your breath and waste the time.

This week, a friend of mine told me about an email string that went around her team arguing about the merits and non-merits of capitalizing the letters in the business request on the reports.  The group couldn’t agree, so a meeting was scheduled.

I asked whether there was something that was case sensitive that was prohibiting them from getting the information they needed.  No.

Was there a report that was customer-facing?  No.

I asked her whether anyone had thought to ask what value this added to the product they were producing.  She replied that she was sure everyone was thinking that, because this was petty and stupid even for them, but that no one wanted to call their manager out on it.

I’m of the view that this didn’t require a “calling out,” but I do understand.  She works in a corporate culture in which they have spent millions on site licenses and even more in training dollars and time on a software product that creates work for many and provides no information, but because their VP was the person who brought it in, no one will bring it up.

So, what do you do when you work with a herd of elephants in the room?

Start small.  Look at what you’re donig in your day and get rid of the non-value-added stuff that you have control over.

When you get to the stuff that others need for you to do, be curious, not accusatory.  Ask, “How does this thing that I do contribute?”  On the occasion that someone feels defensive anyway, reassure them.  The point is, it doesn’t have to be a confrontation.  People might surprise you.

Be Your Best You Today,


p.s. – Dealing with the elephants in the room can be very difficult when you’re stuck in the cage with them.  This is where hiring an outside consultant or a coach can be ideal because there are times that it is easier for managers to hear a message when it comes from someone who isn’t in the day to day mix.  If you think your group spends too much time doing things that don’t save money or make money, let’s set up a complimentary consultation to see whether coaching might be an effective way for your group to be more productive.

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