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Your Organisational Crutch (…and how to get rid of it)

See this chair?

It’s an organisational crutch.

A makeshift, temporary, poor, pseudo-solution to a real problem.

That chair– and things like it– limit your productivity.

You’ve probably got one too.  (An organisational crutch, that is.  And possibly a chair too.)

This chair is found in the home of productivity expert, Dr. Jason Fox (whom I heartily recommend; www.drjasonfox.com).  Let Jason explain:  

…The chair was moved into the bedroom for some forgotten reason.  Then one of us hung a coat on it.  Then I put a shirt on it.  Then, over time, it becomes part of the way things get organised in the bedroom, ie, a default place for clothes temporarily or intermittently worn.

Here’s the point: work is full of organisational crutches.

Organisational crutches are little temporary “fixes” that become permanent fixtures in your day-to-day  processes.  Problem is:  we stop seeing them and we start working around them.

They start out as good ideas – quick, time saving fixes – but over time the fix becomes a fixture.   It often happens so insidiously that we can’t even see them anymore.  They become unnoticed default positions like, well, the furniture in the room.  Ever been to a default meeting with a cumbersome default agenda, set and held at a default time for a default duration?

If you’re progress is hobbled by fixtures that have outlived their temporary usefulness, here’s the fix:

1. Gain perspective – If you ask why something is done a certain way and the answer is “well, it’s always been done like that”, you just found a crutch.  Find others.  Next time you go to work, carry a notebook and record all of the crutches you notice.  Identify those mindless, habitual, ‘short-cuts’ that are just empty habits now.

2. Clean processes regularly – You don’t need to create new fixtures to replace old ones (don’t worry, new ones arise organically).  Just identify and prune from existing fixtures all the things that don’t foster progress.  The Japanese call it kaizen, continuous improvement.  We call it “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and “inch by inch anything is a cinch.”  Keep pruning.

3. Clean that slate – Business coaches frequently ask: “If you were to start your business today, what would you do differently?”  That question applies to almost any process.  To get things moving the trick is overcome the inertia inherent within the status-quo.  Sometimes, incremental improvement just doesn’t cut it; sometime you need a full-on, hard-core productivity-blitz to make things happen.

Using our chair example, take it out of the room and see what happens without your organisational crutch.

Or get an external expert to facilitate the process by looking at things objectively.   

I married one and she routinely sets things right by junking my old ways of doing things.

Result:  greater efficiency, greater harmony, and a lot more clothes on hangers.

A spring clean of your work flow reveals how greater productivity is possible.

Bottom Line:  You can’t fill your work or life with greater productivity until you first create space for it by ridding yourself of those encumbering, default processes that are impeding you.

What do you think?

About Dr. Duff Watkins [www.execsearch.com.au]

international executive search consultant / author-- dispensing career advice about how the job market really works


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