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Organization, Purpose and Performance

April 13, 2010

I was working on a significant project this last week, several million at stake,
and found it very difficult to get my arms around  the deliverables and
the plans to reach them.  Dates and mitigations were even harder to nail
down. I’m saying to myself and my co-worker, after reviewing the poor
performance, “Who organized this anyway? Good grief!”

That led me on an interesting journey this week, looking at how different
people organize to get things done.  Here’s the big insight for me, and maybe even you –
everyone organizes around a purpose (not specifically a tie to
performance).   Yes, there is a method to our madness, but, and this
is important, those different styles of organization don’t all end up with
the same amount of money in your pocket at the end of the day.

Let me say that again, everyone has a pattern of organizing that’s based
upon a purpose
.   But, all purposes are not equal, and depending upon the
purpose you use, you are looking at very different outcomes for your
career and your life.

I should also mention that what looks like organization from one
person’s purpose-based system, can look like chaos from
someone else’s purpose based system
.  Let me give you two
quick examples:

#1  I saw an interview with Miley Sirus last week.  She was discussing that she
was looking forward to moving out and having her own place and ending
the tension with her Mom about her style of organizing clothing by dropping
it on the floor of her room.

Interesting, her Mom probably feels she is unorganized, Miley was telling
the talk show host that it is her form of organization.  When you listened
carefully you realized she was organizing based upon visual location and
ease of effort.  Her clothes were spread out all over the room, not all
clumped in one corner.  She could easily get to whatever she needed with
minimum storing effort.

#2 The person who’s project plan I was struggling with, was organizing all
work effort around project report milestones.  So you couldn’t follow any
deliverable easily from start to finish.  Tasks sequences were broken
up and re-clustered together based upon what had to be included in the
next report.

It’s another way of organizing,  maximizing the purpose of generating a
report, but was giving me fits in terms of being able to confirm we had the
right or even a complete sequence of tasks or plan to achieve each deliverable.

If you step back and look rather dispassionately at your own style, at what
purpose your organization serves, you might it find it pretty informative,
if not entertaining… but not necessarily tied to giving you the best overall

Here’s some purpose based organizational patterns I recognize frequently,
I bet you can add more.   We tend to organize work based upon:

1. Whatever is on my calendar today,
2. The latest request in my inbox, voice mail,
3. My boss’ s requests
4. What’s due next, due dates in general
5. When I have to deliver… a report, an outcome,…
6. How I’ve always done things, my preferred habits
7. What’s easiest,
8. What’s most comfortable
9. What’s most likely to keep me out of trouble
10. What’s most likely to reach the outcomes I want

Bottom Line:
We all tend to organize our world and information at work.  We all organize
to serve a purpose so things get done.  You might want to think about the purpose your
organization is built on… and whether it serves your best interest.

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