Back in high school there was always the one teacher who gave the trick assignment. You know the one. It started with the instruction “Step 1: Read the entire assignment before starting”. Inevitably you got to question 7 on the second page which said: “Ignore the first six questions and complete only questions 8 and 9”.
Hopefully you were only caught out once with this tactic. If so, it achieved its purpose, which was to compel you to think about your task before plunging right in to completing it. But, if you are like most people, you forgot this lesson when it came time to apply it at work.
It’s January 4th, your first day back after a restful Christmas break, and the Boss comes to you with the latest urgent request. How do you respond? If you are like most people, you would plunge right in to get the Answer. You worked all day on developing the perfect Answer, but when you presented it to the Boss the response was: “That’s not exactly what I was looking for.” So you received some clarification and slunk back to your desk for a late night of getting the real Answer.
Here’s an alternative scenario.
It’s January 4th, and the Boss comes to you with the latest urgent request. You listened to the Boss, taking note of what the Boss said. You asked two questions: “Who is looking for the Answer?” and “What decision do they need to make based on the Answer?”
Then you thought about the request in the context of those two questions. By stopping to consider the context, you were able to focus more clearly on the Right Answer. When you presented this to the Boss, you received a more positive response and got to go home on time to a relaxing evening with your family or friends.
Any manufacturing operation will tell you that rework kills your productivity. Why should it be any different with intellectual property? By spending a bit more time upfront thinking and planning, you will spend less time revising and redoing.
Here’s to a 2010 where we are less reactive and more productive.
Steve and Megann