Sunday, April 26, 2015

Shadow Work

I spent much of my weekend doing Shadow Work.   Shadow Work is all the little things that need doing but you are not paid for.  For example, today I went through my mail.  Then lots of it needed recycling and sometimes separating before going in the different bins.  And I was at the grocery store where I waited in line to self checkout.  And then returned the cart.  All Shadow Work.

And I sifted through dozens of emails - many deleted.  I filed my expenses.  More Shadow Work.

None of it was strategic (yet).  I will get to strategic work tonight.

I got the name Shadow Work from a book by Craig Lambert - Shadow Work - the unpaid,  Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day.  Lambert took the term from Ivan Illich who coined it in his 1981 book.

So I "get" that there are lots of unpaid things that need doing.  Lambert actually laments the fact that it has increased with the advent of self service in almost everything.  I am not sure I would go that far - I think full service often converts unpaid work like pumping gas into more unpaid time waiting.  This is particularly true of ATMs or online banking.  They save Shadow Work usually.  They are faster than waiting in line for a teller.  Although they tend to have less personality (hopefully).

I know travel has a huge amount of the worst kind of shadow work.  CBC did a piece on how bad air travel is.  They did not even factor in the Shadow Work of booking it in the first place.

For many people, their biggest Shadow Work is commuting.  I have a short walk to work now but even so try to add value to the time by listening to the WSJ podcast.

The main point I get from Lambert's book is to "be aware" of all the Shadow Work I do.  And then decide what to do with it.  As much as possible, eliminate it?

Lambert makes the point that we should try to streamline the Shadow Work which is exactly what I am trying to do.  How can I do more in less time so I can spend more time in strategic areas.

His final chapter has a subchapter on "The Twilight of Leisure".  I am wondering if Lambert is not happy working.  "Work" as it is so called gets a bad rap.  It can be more fun than many leisure activities.

One of my investments - Organimi released an easy org chart product.   Check it out.

And a great slideshare on how successful people start their day.

Grandson Josh and I when I still had my mountain man look from a vacation in Spain.  And one of the latest grandchild - Elizabeth.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The High-Speed Company Review

I was inspired today by a book (as I often am) called The High-Speed Company: Creating Urgency and Growth in a Nanosecond Culture by Jason Jennings and Laurence Haughton.

I was attracted to the title.  I am a big believer in sense of urgency as one prerequisite of success.  And with my new business - DDE Media, I am thinking a lot about the culture we need.

It starts with a compelling chapter - Doing Well by Doing Good.  This has long been one of my beliefs - so good start.  A quote from the book "Give people the why - they give you the how".  

A cute story from the book:

Teacher:  "How did you do on the test"
Student: "Good"
Teacher: "No, you did well - Superman does good".

I liked that this chapter affirmed that high urgency does not mean high stress.  Actually it means the opposite.  It means focus on the right things.  Have the right systems and processes.  There is a whole chapter on "Systematize Everything".  I have long been an advocate of Michael Gerbers book E-myth.  This chapter was a mini affirmation of E-myth.

Part of being high urgency or nimble if allowing people to do their jobs.  Push decision making down.  As the book says avoid "unnecessary leadership".

The only point I have slight disagreement with is "avoid CAVE people".  No - not those on the paleo diet but Citizens Against Virtually Everything.  I have actually had good success by keeping a few people around me who challenge everything.  It helps me think more and build a better case.  If you can sell a CAVE person, it likely is a good idea.

The authors advocate being close to your customers.  There was interesting stories of P and G visiting real families in Turkey to get close.  

And of course there was a chapter on communications.  Really listening - hearing.  Not like the Bette Midler quote "enough about me - lets talk about what you think about me".

Some quotes:

"Prioritize fanatically"

"Nothing fails like success"  (Success can cause complacency)   

""Success turns risk takers into caretakers"

"Who will not follow a leader who puts their own interests above their own"

"Those who succeed go through life not thinking "its all about me", they think "its all about others."