Work Out Loud by Rosa Say
Aloha mai kākou, Let’s talk story. This week, let’s talk about one way the ‘me’ of Ho‘ohana becomes ‘we.’ How does the deep work you do, get introduced to your business’s Language of We?
One of the questions I’m fond of asking business owners these days, is if they’re bringing any freshened perspectives to the beginning of the 20s—what are the New Year’s/New Decade’s resolutions they’re entertaining, specifically for the workplace? An answer I often hear, has to do with “deep work,” and that owners want their people to dive into the true essence of their missions and visions, being less distracted by the unimportant. In short, they want more focus on the “blood and guts” of what their chosen work’s discipline is all about. Oddly, I’m also hearing that these same people want to do away with most of their meetings; they see meetings as time sinks, and as a significant part of the distractions they battle. This argument is largely lost on me, for I love meetings. You read that right. I love meetings. Listen, I hate bad meetings as much as everyone else does. However I’m a raving fan of good meetings. Good meetings are great discussions. In a good meeting, a meeting of the minds happens; bright minds engage and challenge each other, they entertain useful questions and they seek clarity and synergy. We all want “deep work” rather than work that skims the surface of issues without resolving them. We want work that progresses in meaningful ways. Yet we have to stop and ask ourselves, how that deep, meaningful, and progressive work actually happens in our organizations. It happens when it engages a workplace in its entirety. In a good meeting, people work out loud. People share what they’ve been working on: Individual efforts which have chipped away at deep work’s pockets find their fit in the big picture of cumulative work—mission-busting work. People discover ways they can collaborate, ways they may have missed seeing before. People work for the good of the whole, and gain more understanding on why they might have to ‘kill their darlings.” In other words, they focus. Don’t be too quick to dismiss your meetings. Ask instead, if you need to reframe and restructure your meetings so they become more useful to you, as this stage where individual work begins to work out loud—work is shared, explained, questioned in a useful way, integrated into larger efforts and expands from individually deep, to collaboratively expansive. As a good guideline, meetings should be 10% administrative—think ‘moderated’—and 70% devoted to discussion. The final 20% should be for the decision-making of follow-up, and coming to agreement on what happens next as a direct consequence of the meeting just held. Deep work is great. Deep work shared and integrated is even better.
— On deep work: Here’s how Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, Rules for Focued Success in a Distracted World, defines “deep work;”
“Deep work is focused, uninterrupted, undistracted work on a task that pushes your cognitive abilities to their limit. The best ideas and the most meaningful progress come from deep work, not shallow work. —Shallow work answers emails, produces reports, and flits from meeting to meeting. —Deep work creates breakthrough business ideas, exposes new research questions, and solves complex problems.”
— In our Aloha Archives:
People will often lament that meetings are boring, useless, time-sucking sacred cows, yet let’s get real about this: If true, the meeting itself isn’t the problem, because meetings don’t give themselves. The problem is us, as the meeting givers and takers we are. The good news? It’s a very easy problem to solve. We just need to approach it as skill-building, with the added benefit of culture-shaping communication improvement. Set the goal: “I will be a better meeting planner and giver, and I will be a great meeting participant and follow-up champion.”
How will you make an impact in the next meeting you attend? Have a great week, we Ho‘ohana Kākou, Rosa
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