Structuring the Process in Your Head and In Meetings
Someone said to me the other day. “You are a structured thinker.” Let me
ask you something. “What would people say about your thought
process if they crawled inside your head?” Would they say “this is
incredible!” or “Wow, you apply learning really quickly” or “yikes, your
thought process looks like my teenage daughter’s room, stuff gets dropped
all over the place.” Have you ever thought about the fact that the way you
process thoughts in your head isn’t a given?
We could probably all profit from a regular review or tune-up of how
we manage our thought process, especially as it applies to our time spent
at work. But that’s not where this blog is leading, although it wouldn’t be
a bad blog to go explore that concept.
Since I started consulting with ManagePro 18 years ago, I have been
talking to people about getting stuff out of their head and into ManagePro
so that they have more head room to be creative. Our minds are not that
great at storing lots of todos, plus it creates a lot of clutter. I noticed
in a blog this morning that David Allen is saying the same thing.
First question, Do you think that revealing the concept of getting the details
out of your head and into a larger system changes the way people operate?
The concept that it will better leverage the details and follow-through, while
creating more brain space to be creative or create a higher level of value?
I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and said, “Thank you
so much for sharing that concept, that has totally transformed the way
I handle the small stuff and my resulting creativity has just gone through
the roof.” NOT! It doesn’t work that way! Or rather it hasn’t for me.
Stay with me, I’m getting to the point (probably doesn’t seem like it),
but this one has a bit of detour. Actually I’m stepping around several
thoughts my head would like to point out, and my fingers type, but
I’m stearing this blog back to how you and I think… and specifically
how to influence that process.
David proposes a structure (Collect, Process, Organize, Review, Do),
in his Getting Things Done methodology which is a good one, but again
nothing really earth shaking. But I began to think, if you don’t
operate that way in your head, then why would you operate
that way with tasks coming across your desk?
David made a comment at the end of his last newsletter, “If you think
unruly and unfocused committees in your company or your community
can be a frustrating waste of time, try the one in your head.”
Then this interesting connection went together in my head. It started
with thinking about an ebook I recently published, actually three, on
creating high value business meetings, and in the 2nd book on Process,
I talk about the fact that meetings work best when you steer the
participants to interact in a repeated 4 step cycle or dance of:
1. Recognition (what’s next, how much time,
what’s the value, where are we?)
2. Report (let’s get the facts, the status,
the problem, accurately and concisely)
3. Review (what are we going to do with those facts,
implications & next steps)
4. Re-create (do those facts represent possible
opportunities and options if we get creative about how we constuct them?)
There’s some parallels between the structure I advocate in groups or meetings
and David’s GTD process. But here’s the thing.
To have effective meetings, the leader has to adopt an active stance in
steering the group through this 4 step sequence on each major
agenda item. If the leader doesn’t actively steer the process, the process
get’s steered by all sorts of other factors. Predictably.
Ready for the big insight?
OK, here’s the payoff for staying with me (drum roll)..
>>> IT”S THE SAME IN YOUR HEAD.
If you don’t actively steer the process your mind uses to manage all
that stuff whirling around inside, it gets steered by all sorts of other
factors and stimuli.
Get it? You have to be much more active with your thought process,
than you (or I) realized, if you are intending to change the value you create
with your time. Simply reading, simply buying new technology, simply
attending a seminar… none of those things can do the one thing you need
to do, and that is actively take charge of how you manage the internal
conversation and focusing process in your head.
And you manage a new process best by employing a new structure.
One that has time limits and steps to it. One that you use today, tomorrow,
the day after that, and the next day after that as well, until the new structure
gets woven into your thought process as “the way to do things.”
Most of us have an internal thought and organization process that’s as
inefficient as the last meeting we were just grumbling about attending.
You can change that, but to do so you have to take an active stance
in the process, exactly like you need to do when managing a meeting
for high value. You don’t need to control the process, as much as you
need to steer it and apply/adhere to a new struture or process.�
Check out my short ebooks on meeting process and
you’ll understand better what I’m talking about.