The natural flow of time in enterprise is toward the “transactional.” Without an intentionally different process, days become bits of 30-minute zoom windows.
These become a terrible blow to big thinking because they eat up available time, but also because:
- The default is ‘out’ instead of ‘in’.
- ‘No’ is easier than ‘yes’.
- Judging/judging another is easier than imagining what is possible.
- A clear result is needed in a short time, which means that the impact is likely to be superficial.
Sometimes that’s okay as a means of sharing information or quickly qualifying a next step, but my brain shrivels when the whole day looks like this.
Seven ideas to shake it up
Here are some approaches I try:
- I schedule time for myself. This is an important time and it is all too easy to sacrifice it. I make sure there is at least a few hours each week to work on a bigger project or idea.
- I walk between meetings. I need time for my brain to let ideas in. A 30 minute walk instead of a hurried 10 minute Uber will suffice. Carry a notebook or some way to record what your brain is doing through magic.
- I question every standing meeting. It’s easy to fill a week with it. They’re called “Check-ins” or “WIPs,” and they can quickly become a time-consuming activity. They also postpone moving forward until that meeting takes place once a week. When they say ‘How are you?’ meetings, replace them with one of the ideas below or eliminate them altogether. What can be moved to asynchronous communication?
- I schedule long 1:1s with no agenda: I schedule more time for face-to-face 1:1 sessions with people to go deeper into things. This is hard to do… turn down 2 or 3 smaller meetings for a deep dive into one. But I’ve found the results to be transformative.
- I’m trying ‘maker sessions’: We try some of the sessions as 60-minute creative sprints where we express our ideas by making things. It opens our minds to new possibilities.
- We’ve unpacked ‘All-ins’ for squads: We found that we had a natural inclination for everyone to be present at every meeting. We just attacked this and now have small ‘teams’ devoting quality time to domain specific issues (some are focused on investment topics and some are business activities) – these conversations run deep and then reflect lessons learned and results back to the larger group as needed.
- I write more: I reserve time to write. It forces me to think about something, to think about what matters and to think about a specific response. Sharing ideas publicly forces accountability. We now have 6 people in our company who ‘Build out Loud’ through their writing.