Getting blogged down in the details

Having made myself an informal mental commitment to blogging Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings (capturing in the car on my Blackberry during the hour-long drive and uploading when I get to the office) it was quite jarring this morning when by the time I got into the car, I still had no clue of what to talk about. In Week 2. Out of ideas. Already?!

Sure, I could run through colourful anecdotal accounts of the adventures and misadventures of the weekend, but I’m not sure that would be compelling enough reading… And might soon result in a dwindling number of accomplices!

So I resigned myself to putting the blog on hold and reviewing my contribution to the Monday Management Meeting instead. We have recently changed the format from a feedback session to a forward-focused planning session. Each person notes on the whiteboard the list of things they need to achieve in the week, allocating activities to each project, with an associated amount of time it will take and/or time lapses before it can take place. Then interdependencies are noted by drawing lines between activities showing who they affect… and there we have it: the weekly ‘mess’. Activities are then slotted into a single combined schedule, divided into daily blocks of mornings and afternoons and presto! Everyone has a plan for themselves for the week and knows what everyone else is doing, expecting and where they have gaps to accommodate ad hocs. The plan is pinned to the board in the open plan and any changes are then just a quick discussion between those involved and scribbling the alteration into an open slot.

So simple. So clear. And we’ve cut the length of the meeting in half and added team context and goal relevance for the full week ahead.

Would be awesome to do something similar for one’s personal life ‘mess’. Putting a bit of thought into what’s on your personal agenda, consciously jotting down your plans and intentions and communicating your needs so that choices are considered and considerate. Reviewing the last week to see what still needs to be carried over and what can be considered ‘done’ and put to rest for good. Slotting things into the me/you/us compartments, deciding who else fits where in the mess and bedding down a combined course of action. Full disclosure and honestly ranked priorities so that the mapped path is realistic. The unknowns cause confusion, the confusion causes tension and tension creates a world of complication, where molehill details become mountains.

A dude I used to work with had the saying “feedback is the breakfast of champions”, but I (now) reckon that feedback is too late. Can’t change what’s already happened. It should be the 20 in life’s 80/20. Proactivity’s the real winner. Offer information openly. Make plans and stick to them. Build a reliable track record and exceptions will be better received. More of the KISS’ing and less of the complication.